June 2022 Legislative Update

Allison C. LeBoeuf, JD, OOA CEO/Executive Director

The OOA began the session tracking over 200 bills of interest to our membership, in the categories of Scope of Practice, Licensure Boards, Medicaid, Surprise Billing, Opioids, Vaccines, and other areas. The year the governor has signed 400 bills, 194 from the House and 206 from the Senate. He also allowed a total of 10 measures to take effect without his signature.

Lawmakers adjourned the regular session on May 27. Before the regular session ended, the Legislature called itself into a special session to address the process for distributing federal pandemic relief ("ARPA") money allocated to Oklahoma. The Governor also called a second special session to convene June 13 to address inflation’s impact on Oklahomans through tax cuts.  The House met Tuesday, June 14th, under the banner of a third special session, to consider 15 inflation relief bills.

Regular Session Bills of Note:

SB 1337 -- Passed. Oklahoma voters approved Medicaid expansion on June 30, 2020, expanding eligibility to all adults ages 19-64 years old, who make up to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. The OOA participated in a lawsuit in 2021, successfully preventing the governor and the OHCA from implementing a managed Medicaid plan (outsourcing management to large out of state insurance companies) without due process and valid legislative authorization. This year, the OHCA tried again, working with the OHA to push a new “ACO” model, which was largely the same as the 2021 plan, through the legislature without the input of physicians. The OOA was able, late in the game, to get a seat at the table along with other physician associations. We met numerous times with the senate and house authors, and worked to ensure that a number of our members’ priorities were included (if the bill could not be defeated) to reduce the harm managed care will cause to physicians who serve the Medicaid population and their patients. The items we were able to include successfully were:

  • Language prohibiting ACO/network exclusion/discrimination against physicians in independent practice on the basis of lack of hospital affiliation
  • Guarantee that physicians will be able to contract with more than one ACO/contracting entity
  • A two year rate floor for physicians participating in SoonerCare (we fought for a longer period)
  • A provision requiring 11% of the ACOs’ annual budget to go towards primary care by the 4th year of contracting – which will be a major increase

While the OOA opposes the privatization of Medicaid, we worked strenuously to improve the impact of this legislation on your patients and practice.

SB 1517 -- This was an OOA-supported bill, through which we attempted to protect physician scope of practice and the safety of your patients. This bill would have clarified the existing law on PA prescribing, ensuring that PA’s are only able to prescribe sched. II Opioids in an inpatient (such as ER) setting, and not independently in outpatient settings.

Over the past two sessions, the PA’s lobby has been pushing for full prescribing rights, taking advantage of a lack of clarity in the existing law to push further towards independent practice. While SB 1517 was not successful this year, we will be closely following PA committee rulemaking over the next few months and continue to be vigilant and proactive on this issue.

HB 3878 – This was a vaccine bill that the OOA and coalition partners opposed, which would have forced employers to exempt employees from vaccine requirements if the employee presented a written statement of objection (no health or religious exemption required). This bill died in committee.

HB 3060 – This “price transparency” bill opposed by the OOA due the undue burden it would have placed on physicians to comply with it’s requirements of disclosing the cash cost to patients of common procedures or face monetary fines. These penalties would have been implemented without a process outlined on how providers would be monitored, if warnings will be issued, or if appeals can be filed. We were able to get the bill author to lay it over after explaining our reasons for opposition.

SB 888 – Pain clinic bill that would have required practices prescribing opioids to 60% or more of their patients to register as a “pain clinic” with OBNDD. This bill was carried over from last session, and worked on further this session, but ultimately was not heard. While the most recent version of this bill was better than previous versions for the physician community, there were potential pitfalls regarding the impact it would have on methadone treatment facilities, and the bill ultimately did not pass because of this. It is likely to be resurrected again next year.

Pictured Below: Osteopathic Medical Students and Physicians pose for a photo with OOA Staff in the Oklahoma State Capitol Building at Osteopathic Medicine Day, 2022.

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