2021 Session Wrap Up
The legislature has adjourned and the governor has taken action on all bills of interest to the OAFP. It was an extremely busy session with a record number of bills filed and the OAFP weighed in on measures ranging from managed care to patient issues. We were able to make some improvements but lost some battles as well.
Here’s a quick wrap up for a seemingly very long four months:
- Managed care – Though we were not able to block managed care in the legislature, the health care coalition worked to pass SB131 in the waning days of session. The amended bill creates guard rails designed to protect patients and providers. You can find a longer summary of the measure here. The governor allowed the measure to become law without signing it. During session, the governor has five days to sign or veto bills or they automatically become law. As we move into privatized managed care for Medicaid, we would encourage you to document any issues you have with managed care companies so that we will see where problems are and if the legislature can address them in the future.
- Telehealth – Telehealth payment parity, SB674, was the second highest OAFP priority. We fought to make sure the measure still applied to all providers when the insurance companies wanted to cut physicians out. Our authors, Sen. McCortney and Rep. McEntire stuck with us and we were able to pass a measure that includes all providers.
- Vaccines – We were on the defensive much of this session fighting a number of anti-vaccine measures. Most were not heard or killed in committee. We were able to kill HB2335 on the Senate floor when it didn’t get enough votes to pass however one measure got through and the governor signed it. SB658 states that school districts, technology centers and universities cannot require a COVID vaccination as a condition of admission, require a vaccination passport or implement a mask mandate for students who have not been vaccinated. It states that it will not apply to any health care setting. It also outlines how school districts can implement mask mandates and states boards must revisit the mandates at each board meeting.
- Co-pay accumulator ban – HB2678, which also passed, allows all payments made by patients or on their behalf through methods such as coupons to count toward their out-of-pocket costs.
- Other measures:
– which would have allowed physicians to supervise an unlimited number of physician assistants did not pass but remains alive in conference for next session.
– directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to establish a health information exchange certification with input from stakeholders.
– alters the makeup of the health care authority’s Medical Advisory Committee and states that appointments may not be for more than four consecutive years.
- Two tobacco bills passed in the last days of session. A health care coalition was concerned that SB1078
would reclassify synthetic nicotine products, no longer listing them as tobacco, and thus lowering the tax. Despite the coalition’s efforts, that measure, which was dumped into a budget bill at the last minute, passed. In the next few days, HB2674
, which states anyone under 21 cannot buy those nicotine products, passed, after the coalition expressed concern about possible confusion on the issue. The coalition still objected to changing the taxes.
– the medical community’s attempt at a price transparency bill that requires providers and facilities to make prices for certain health care services publicly available.
Lastly, thank you to all of you who made phone calls and sent emails to your legislators expressing the needs of your patients and practices. It truly always makes a difference but it especially did this session as we started session mostly monitoring and communicating remotely. Toward the end of session, we were able to finish in person most of the time.
After a short break, we will be ready to start working to prepare for next session!Back to most recent blogs