ACTION ALERT from MAIC
The Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee passed two bills this week that would put all of us at risk. We need your help to take action and stop these bills from passing on the Senate floor. These bills are getting further and the consequences to public health would be dire. We need to send a strong message that this is not what is best for Kansans, and this is also not what Kansans want to see happen. (View recent vaccine polling data from Kansas.)
We must protect our communities against preventable diseases, as well as from the spread of disease that may present in our communities. Please reach out to your Senator via email or phone to let them know you oppose this legislation, and your concerns for how it would negatively impact the health of Kansans.
Find my legislator: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
SB 489 – Removes regulatory authority concerning infectious or contagious diseases from the secretary of health and environment and local health officers and gives this authority to the legislature. In addition, this bill would no longer require a person who poses a substantial risk of transmitting a disease to quarantine. If adopted, this legislation would greatly hamper public health efforts to mitigate the spread of disease.
Key talking points:
1. KDHE is the trusted authority in preventing the spread of disease. Transferring this authority to the legislature would politicize health, diluting the importance of an evidenced-based approach developed by those with expertise. There is also the potential of delayed response as the legislature only meets from January to May.
2. Our future public health concerns are unknown. This overarching legislation blocks the ability for our community health experts to act quickly and make informed decisions about health protections locally, as well as state wide. A recent poll (attached) shows a strong majority of Kansans support KDHE’s authority over public health measures.
3. This proposed legislation also leaves public health up to each individual citizen, forsaking the community at large. The consequences of prioritizing individual decision-making over expert, evidence-based leadership will result in poorer health outcomes for Kansans, particularly for our most vulnerable.
S Sub HB 2280 – This legislation is a rewrite of other bills, some of which received no public hearing. The bill allows for off-label use of some prescription medications, particularly ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, to treat COVID-19 when neither drug has proven to be an effective in the treatment of COVID-19. It expands the religious exemption language to essentially a philosophical exemption and eliminates the ability to inquire regarding the sincerity of such religious beliefs.
Key talking points:
1. In a recent poll, 67% of Kansans reject the idea that we should add more wellness vaccine exemptions. Although 56% agree in principle that there should be a religious exemption, they believe the religious exemptions should be stricter in the following ways:
- 61% want religious leader documentation
- 65% want both parents to approve exemption
- 64% want there to be an annual exemption review
2. Polling results also showed that 85% of Kansans agree that KDHE is the appropriate authority to set the wellness vaccine schedule. This overwhelming support shows that current legislative efforts to change this is out of step with what Kansans are wanting. In addition, 73% of Kansans oppose moving wellness vaccine authority to the legislature.
3. Expanding religious exemptions is the first step in unraveling the critical work that has nearly eradicated diseases like polio, hepatitis, measles, mumps and rubella. Expanding exemptions by going against the majority of Kansans’ wishes, discounts evidence and turns back the clock by several decades, failing to protect our children from preventable disease.