On Thursday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Senate Bill 845, a bill expected to generate $215 million in new revenue from increasing the price of cigarettes by $1.50/pack, to be unconstitutional. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which manages the state’s Medicaid program, was set to receive $70 million of the new funds beginning August 24.
“We urge Governor Fallin to immediately call a special session and implore the legislature to find a sensible, long-term solution to our state’s budgetary woes,” said Oklahoma Osteopathic Association President Kenneth E. Calabrese, DO. “Access to quality health care must always be our top priority. Every day that goes by without a fiscal solution is a day our patients suffer. Our state leadership must consider all revenue-raising measures to ensure the wellbeing of Oklahomans.”
SB 845 passed the in the final week of session and originated in the senate. The Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the state constitution which states revenue raising bills must originate in the house and cannot gain passage in the final five days of legislative session.
“The state budget has been flat for the last decade,” said Calabrese. “While scaling back services is helpful to the bottom line, it certainly doesn’t provide the framework to achieve the dramatic leaps in health care access our state desperately needs. Every day beyond August 24 without a budget solution will jeopardize rural hospitals and endanger our patients.”
Oklahoma SoonerCare (Medicaid) provides health care coverage for more than 813,000 lives, including 540,000 children.