State legislative update includes appropriations bill and more

Posted on: 5/2/18

On Monday, the governor signed SB 1600, the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill that funds the state agencies of Oklahoma. Fiscal year 2019 begins July 1, 2018. “The budget includes many of the priorities I have called for in my annual State of the State address to lawmakers the past three years. Core services of state government are prioritized throughout the budget. It provides for a teacher pay raise and additional funding for public schools as well as increased funding for mental health and corrections to implement criminal justice reform measures. The legislation also includes additional revenue growth to put Oklahoma on a stable foundation, and reduces reliance on one-time funds,” Gov. Fallin said in a press release.

Health care spending limits bills advance in Legislature

SB 1605 directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to increase Medicaid provider rates by 2 percent beginning Oct. 1, 2018 and increase to 3 percent provider rates for long-term care facilities. The bill passed the Senate and is in the House awaiting a floor vote.

HB 3707 directs The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) to provide a 3 percent increase in psychiatric inpatient, substance abuse residential, psychologist, and agency-based therapy provider rates. ODMHSAS was also directed to use $4 million of its funding increase for needs assessments related to criminal justice reform. Legislators also directed any federal funding increases to be used for maintaining current levels of services, addressing as needed the above rate increases and addressing caps in therapy and case management services imposed during the preceding 24-month period. The bill passed the House and is in the Senate awaiting a floor vote.

Dental managed care bill fails in Senate committee

A bill that directed the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to seek proposals for managed dental care failed Friday to win the approval of the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget by a vote of 8 aye to 27 nay. The bill’s author, Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, chair of the committee, was questioned extensively by members of the Senate.  

OHA joined forces with the Oklahoma Dental Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association to defeat the bill. The Medicaid dental program has suffered serious cutbacks from the Legislature over a period of years and according to the Oklahoma Dental Association, the passage of this bill would harm the dental teaching program at the OU dental school. Sen. David made it clear in conversations with advocacy group representatives that outsourcing the dental program was the first step in outsourcing the entire Medicaid program.  

Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, said they were concerned the proposal was being put before lawmakers so late in the legislative session. Lawmakers are expected to complete their work by May 4. Scott asked how this differed from a previous attempt to implement a managed health care system for Medicaid. The difference, said David, was that the health care plan required a large upfront financial commitment, but the dental plan did not.

There was no debate on the bill before it failed. (Lynne White)

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Introducing a new initiative to improve the quality and timeliness of inpatient and outpatient encounter data available to hospitals in Oklahoma.

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