OSHL bill

Senate Bill 990 being signed into law by Governor Stitt, seated, with Trish Emig, President OSHL, left; Esther Houser, first vice President, OSHL; Senator Scott, Representative Boles, OSHL Senator Haljean Gillispie; Jalmer Fallon, OSHL Representative.

The Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature (OSHL) had a great 2019 Legislative Session, as two pieces of legislation were signed into state law to help seniors in the state.

One such bill was Senate Bill 990, brought by Senator Paul Scott and Representative Brad Boles, this was also helped by a local Oklahoma Silver Haired Senator Haljean Gillispie of Duncan.

“It requires Insurance companies that sell Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans to increase plan premiums no more than once per year and only during the Medicare Open Enrollment period,” according to a press release. “This will end the ‘bait and switch’ tactics that some insurance companies have used in the past.”

Another bill, Senate Bill 280, was done by Representative Marcus McEntire and Senator Frank Simpson which concerns nursing home reform.

“Among other significant reforms, it enacts into law the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature’s proposal to increase the number of Long-Term Care Ombudsmens,” the release said.

OSHL was just one of the organizations advocating for the bill which includes increased direct care staffing, restrictions on what staff can be counted as “direct care,” and four hours of dementia care training per year for all clinical staff in nursing homes.

OSHL said SB 280 replaced the Quality Incentive Reimbursement Program with measurable objectives, including reducing pressure sores, urinary tract infections, Anti-Psychotic medication use, and unintended weight loss.

One bill which was vetoed by Governor Stitt was House Bill 1205.

“The bill would have created a one-year task force to determine if an ombudsman program would be feasible to protect Oklahomans receiving In-home or community-based Long-Term Care,” said the release. “Instead, Governor Stitt has tasked his Cabinet and agency directors to ensure the safety of these Oklahomans and work with the authors of this legislation to implement any necessary changes discovered through their review.”

Another bill, which provided a sales tax exemption to Oklahomans purchasing Hearing Aids, failed to advance in the State Legislature.

The OSHL plans to pursue this issue during future Legislative sessions.

Trish Emig, President of the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature Alumni Association, said other aging-related bills passed but they were not stopping.

“There still remains significant work to do to modernize the Aging Landscape that Older Oklahomans face,” she said. “One hundred of us turn 60 every day in Oklahoma. State Government has been in denial about the many services that are needed to support this growing population.”