Session Update from Dawn – 2/7/21

February 7, 2021   The Oklahoma legislature has returned to the capitol with a record of more than 3,000 bills filed ranging from Bigfoot hunting licenses to anti-vaccine measures. The Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians team will be working outside the capitol and inside as much as possible to make sure health care remains a priority. There will be somewhat limited access at the capitol due to COVID-19. Some legislators are taking appointments only while others continue to have open access to their offices. Committee rooms will have limited access and thus we will be monitoring many of those online as well as floor action when that time comes. Some highlights from the last week:
  • Upon wading through bills, it seems our projections were correct. There are a myriad of measures to preempt cities and towns from having masking mandates and attempting to prohibit businesses from requiring vaccines as a condition of employment.
  • In his state of the state, Governor Stitt once again mentioned the need to have managed care with Medicaid expansion. The Oklahoma State Medical Association will seek an injunction against the contracts. The funding of managed care promises to be a topic throughout session especially toward April and May when budget negotiations heat up.
Looking ahead:
  • Copay accumulator ban – we are awaiting hearings in both houses on measures that will allow patients to count copay assistance and coupons toward their deductibles.
  • Legislators have filed a variety of telehealth measures. We are communicating with a coalition of health care organizations that have been working on telehealth measures to determine which ones to support. The OAFP priority is payment parity for telehealth visits.
Much of the work will be done in the next two weeks as we approach the first committee deadline. Then some of the bills will begin to fall off and it will become more apparent which bills have more of a chance of becoming law. Session must end by 5 p.m. the final Friday in May. Wish us luck and thank you for all you are doing to keep patients healthy amid COVID and all other challenges!

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