March 2019 Legislative Update

The OOA began the session tracking 295 bills. 174 bills are now dead for this session because they did not make the committee deadline.  We are currently tracking 121 bills, and want to share some of the most important bills we are influencing. 

SB 86 by Senators Jech, McEntire, Sanders / HB 1927 by Rep. Roe – This is legislation being presented by the Oklahoma Nurses Association and SSM Health-St. Anthony.  This bill expands Oklahoma’s existing law addressing the assaults of first responders and those specifically working in Hospital Emergency Departments to include all hospital workers that interact with patients.  The OOA supports these bills.

SB 497 by Sen. Standridge – SB 497 requires insurers to provide reimbursements to pharmacists for providing medical services related to managing drug therapy, administering immunizations, and administering therapeutic injections. Additionally, insurers must reimburse pharmacists if the health benefit policy, contract, or agreement of the individual provides for payment or reimbursement of the service. This bill is on general order in the Senate but is not on the agenda yet. The OOA opposes this bill.

SB 801 by Sen. Smalley – SB 801 modify the authority of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to administer anesthesia and in collaboration with a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, pediatric physician, or dentist as opposed to under their supervision. SB 801 passed out of committee Feb. 11 and is headed to the Senate floor soon. A Senate Floor Amendment, which was submitted this week, now allows hospitals and other medical facilities to choose either a supervision model or collaboration model for CRNAs and would be required to disclose the model to patients. The OOA continues to oppose this bill.

SB 839 by Sen. Smalley – SB 839 creates a path to independent practice for APRNs by creating a “Waiver of Supervision”. Sen. Smalley has now removed himself as the author of this bill, but APRNs are still actively working to keep this legislation alive. We expect this legislation will appear towards the end of session like last year so please keep an eye out for alerts to take action quickly. The OOA opposes this bill.

SB 848 by Sen. Rader – Clean-up bill for SB1446. It modifies certain provisions of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. The title has been stricken and the OOA continues to work on this bill. 

HB 1027 by Rep. McEntire – HB 1027 was stripped of its original language regarding CRNAs in committee and substituted for SB 955’s language, Sen. Scott’s bill regarding the Radiology Tech Licensure Act. This bill is now sponsored by Rep. Lewis Moore. The substituted language passed out of committee but after discussions with Rep. Moore, we do not believe it will be heard in the House unless assigned to a new legislator.

HB 2194 by Rep. Randleman – HB 2194 expands the definition of “physician” to include individuals with a doctoral degree who are licensed psychologists. This bill passed out of committee and it on general order in the House. The reason for this legislation, we are told, is to ensure psychologists are reimbursed by Medicaid for their services. We have spoken with the author and even voiced our support to get the Medicaid laws changed but to no avail. The OOA opposes this legislation and signed onto a letter voicing that opposition.

HB 2288 by Rep. Wright – Creates the “Oklahoma Workplace Clean Air Act” and prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places, recreational areas, places of employment, areas and vehicles owned/operated by the state; and, certain facilities and outdoor public places. These are updates to previous laws regulating smoking cigarettes to include medical marijuana. The OOA supports this bill. This has passed out of House Committee and now heads to the floor.

HB 2368 by Rep. Kannady and Sen. Thompson – officially creates the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse. The 13-member commission chaired by the Attorney General is to study, evaluate and make recommendations for any changes to state policy, rules or statutes to better combat opioid abuse in Oklahoma.  The bill states that the Governor shall appoint a licensed medical doctor or a doctor of osteopathy; the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint a licensed practicing medical doctor and the President Pro Tempore shall appoint a licensed practicing medical doctor. The OOA is currently working on this and feels strongly that osteopathic physicians should be included in committee selections and feels strongly that the osteopathic profession should be equally represented. 

HB 2511 by Rep. McCall – HB 2511 creates an income tax exemption for doctors that practice medicine in rural areas beginning tax year 2020. Any income, up to $25,000 each year for up to 5 years, directly related to the practice of medicine in a rural area would be exempt from taxable income for a qualifying doctor. A rural area is defined as any municipality that has a population of less than 25,000 and is at least 25 miles from the nearest municipality with a population greater than 25,000. To qualify, a doctor must have an Oklahoma medical license, have graduated from a medical school located in Oklahoma and reside in the same county as the rural area where the compensation is earned. The measure also requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission to calculate and publish an estimate of the cumulative total of taxes forgone as a result of the exemption. When the estimate by the OTC exceeds $1 million, the exemption will sunset and no longer be available to qualifying doctors. This bill has passed the House and has been sent to Senate.

HB 2612 by Rep. Echols – HB 2612, the Medical Marijuana Unity Bill, passed from the House to the Senate, as well as through the Senate Rules Committee and is headed to the Senate Floor. Two changes relevant to physicians are they are not requiring recommending physicians to be board certified and physicians can now rescind patients’ licenses by reporting them to the Medical Marijuana Authority. 

HB 2638 / SB 509 by Sen. Rader – These bills are step therapy reform bills. Step therapy, often called “fail first,” is a process that requires patients to try and fail one or more medications chosen by their insurer before they can access the optimal treatment recommended and prescribed by their healthcare provider. Step therapy protocols can interfere with the patient-provider relationship and limit a healthcare provider’s ability to tailor care to an individual patient’s needs. These bills will address step therapy protocols required by health plans in connection with prescription drug access and protect patients. The OOA supports these bills. HB 2638 and SB 509 both passed out of their committees and are headed to the House and Senate floors respectively.