TOPEKA — The Kansas House approved legislation Tuesday that would relax qualifications for workers at hospitals and long-term care facilities until May 15.
House Bill 2477 is a response to the governor’s request that the Legislature extend her recent executive orders through law before her emergency declaration expires on Friday. The Senate could consider the House bill, which mirrors the governor’s orders, or pass a competing version.
Gov. Laura Kelly issued the orders on Jan. 6 in response to a new surge in mostly unvaccinated individuals needing care for COVID-19 infections. Hospitals have been unable to provide a staffed ICU bed for everybody who needs one, partly because of chronic understaffing and partly because so many staff members have gotten sick.
The two orders effectively allow retired and student nurses, as well as out-of-state workers, to provide limited duties in health care facilities and adult care homes.
“While certainly not a fix-all, we believe this bill will go a long way toward helping the proponents staff their facilities and provide necessary services to Kansans,” said Rep. Fred Patton, R-Topeka.
Kelly had asked for an extension through March, with the expectation that a surge in cases attributed to the omicron variant will have subsided by then. Patton said the Legislature could reassess before the House law expires on May 15 whether an extension is necessary.
The House passed the bill by a 106-5 vote.
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