We started this legislative session with lawmakers in the House and Senate filing almost 2,400 bills or joint resolutions for consideration. Session ended with 519 of those measures becoming law. This is common. Creating bills is fairly simple, but passing bills is difficult. The system is designed with built-in, bill-killing hurdles.
I’d like to report to you some of the pieces of legislation I was able to pass this session that will have a positive impact on Oklahomans.
One is the nursing home pay-for-performance plan, which is designed to improve quality of care and outcomes for the residents of our state’s nursing homes. I authored House Bill 1902 and was the principal House author of Senate Bill 280, which is the version that eventually passed and was signed into law. Sen. Frank Simpson and I worked closely together on both bills with nursing home administrators, AARP Oklahoma, nurses and other senior advocacy groups to enhance funding, increase the numbers of caregiving personnel at nursing homes and helped negotiate a pay-for-performance model designed to reward nursing homes for better health outcomes.
I’ve said over and over that we must do better as a state for elder healthcare services, and this is a measurable plan for achieving that goal.
Another personal highlight was pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBM) regulation, which Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed into law via House Bill 2632. This bill will regulate PBMs, increase competition and allow people to choose which pharmacy they want to use while still getting the same prescription discounts as the big, company-owned pharmacies. Special thanks to Sen. Greg McCortney and Rep. Jon Echols for their help in getting this bill through the maze of legislative hurdles it faced. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth the fight.
Extending the sunset on the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program (SHOPP) fee until 2025 was another accomplishment. This allows Oklahoma hospitals to provide additional money to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which manages the state’s Medicaid program. These fees allow us to draw down matching federal dollars equal to approximately the federal upper payment limit. This increases state Medicaid dollars without obligating the state to future payments if the federal government stops paying its share.
A glaring disappointment this session was the failure of House Bill 1056. This measure would have ensured domestic assault and battery be defined as a violent crime and offenders found guilty of this charge would have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Crimes against spouses or children are particularly heinous. I will not give up my efforts to protect the vulnerable. To say I am disappointed this bill stalled in the legislative process is an understatement. The bill sailed through the House with only one nay vote but never made it to a committee hearing in the Senate. I will continue to work on this.
Remember that even though session has ended, I am still available by email, and my Capitol office phone will be answered. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 557-7327.
Have a safe summer.