State legislative update: First deadline passes

Posted on: 3/8/17

More than 1,400 bills and resolutions failed to advance to the floor of the house of introduction for a vote before the March 2 committee deadline passed. In total, 397 of the 1,369 House bills and joint resolutions were considered in committee and passed to the next level and 412 of the 877 Senate bills and joint resolutions remain alive for consideration in the 2017 session. Measures that were not heard in committee by March 2 and those that failed a “do pass” motion are considered inactive and may not be considered again until 2018, which is the second session of the 56th Legislature. For a tracking list of OHA priority legislation, click here

State budget & cigarette tax increase

Revenue failure:  On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the state declared a revenue failure after receiving a shortfall in collections of $34.6 million for the current fiscal year. The revenue failure reflects an actual revenue shortfall of 0.7 percent of last year’s estimate and will require state agencies to adjust their budgets accordingly.

HB 1841: OHA is urging the Legislature to pass a $1.50 increase in the cigarette tax. If the measure does not pass, Medicaid payment rates will be cut by a minimum of 7.3 percent. The Health Care Authority needs $41.4 million to cover the decrease in the federal matching rate (FMAP), and $16.7 million to cover utilization increases. A 1 percent Medicaid rate cut is a loss of $8 million (state money).

Funding for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is also included in HB 1841. The FY2017 cut to ODMHSAS appropriations forced cuts to behavioral health provider rates resulting in more than $70 million of lost provider reimbursement ($27.4 million state appropriations and $42.7 million in lost federal matching dollars); this included approximately $24.8 million in lost revenue to rural Oklahoma communities.  For more information, go to

Economist Dr. Frank Chaloupka visited Oklahoma last week to discuss the economic benefits of a cigarette tax increase with health leaders and legislators. To read the Oklahoman article about his visit, click here. To read Dr. Chaloupka’s editorial column, distributed statewide, click here

Bills supported by OHA move to next level

HB 1845, REAL ID Act, McCall/Schulz was signed by Gov. Fallin last week, bringing Oklahoma into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. House author, Speaker Charles McCall, stressed the legislation gives Oklahomans a choice between obtaining a REAL ID compliance license or identification card or one that is non-compliant. Congress passed the Act in 2005 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. While the bill takes effect immediately, there will be a delay to allow the Department of Public Safety time to prepare materials.

SB 83, Childhood Vaccinations, Yen, modifies the conditions upon which a parent may receive the form for a non-medical exemption to childhood vaccines. The measure allows all current exemptions to vaccination. In this version, for a medical exemption, parents or guardians must acquire the signature of a physician. For non-medical exemptions, parents must view an online video provided by the State Department of Health with information regarding the benefits and risks of vaccines before acquiring said exemption.

SB 236, State Health Lab, David, authorizes the issuance of a $58.5 million bond for construction of a new State Health Laboratory for the Health Department.

Bills opposed by OHA die in committee

Bills to diminish authority of state health boards include SB 686, David/Echols, removing the authority of the Health Care Authority Board to appoint the agency’s director and giving the authority to the governor, failed in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee by a vote of nine nay and three aye; and, SB 711, David/Echols, removing the authority of the Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to appoint the commissioner of mental health and substance abuse, was withdrawn from the committee’s consideration by Sen. David.

Health insurance bills that died in committee include SB 329, Marlatt/Smalley, that mandates the offering of HMO plans with the same actuarial value as the states’ self-funded HealthChoice High Option PPO plan and prohibits risk adjusting premium payments to commercial HMOs; and the House version, HB 1630, Rogers, was laid over in the House Committee after OHA members and others contacted House members in opposition to the bill. The bills were requested by Global Health.

Bills opposed by OHA pass committee, headed to the floor for vote 

SB 518, Marlatt/Smalley, requires HMOs to compensate a provider for patient screening, evaluation, and examination services if the compensation is based at 130 percent of the Medicare payment rate for the same or similar services in the same geographic area; HB 1712, Moore, repeals the 38 state mandated health benefits such as breast cancer screening and diabetes treatment; HB 2216, S. Roberts, requires a hospital or inpatient facility that admits an enrollee or seeks prior authorization for a nonemergency service to provide notice to the enrollee that certain health care providers practicing at that facility may not have the enrollee’s insurance; SB 158, Shaw, prohibits a health care practitioner from refusing to treat a patient based on the lawful ownership of a gun; SB 478, Brown, allows the state insurance commissioner to negotiate one or more compacts with other states to allow insurers to sell across state lines; SB 782, Scott, requires licensure of radiology technologists; and, SB 726, Griffin, Telemedicine, allows a physician-patient relationship be established by telephone thereby changing current telemedicine protocols. OHA is in the process of negotiating provisions with the author.

OHA Partners with Qualivis 

Qualivis was developed as a collaborative effort among multiple state hospital associations to meet the temporary staffing needs of member hospitals and health systems.

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