House addresses health care, pharmacies

By Rep. Cynthia Roe

It’s been a busy week at the state Capitol, during which we’ve heard several very important bills, including one that would shape the future of Medicaid and health care in our state for decades to come.

Oklahoma is poised to expand Medicaid on July 1after being approved by Oklahoma voters in June 2020.

Senate Bill 131 proposes that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority oversee the state’s Medicaid program in-house.

I proudly debated in favor of the bill. Authorizing OHCA to manage the state’s Medicaid program in-house would cost the state significantly less in appropriations every year than the proposed alternate plan, SoonerSelect.

SoonerSelect would cost at least $2 billion to sign the contracts and would inevitably incur more costs over time.

Our proposed plan would cost about $263 million annually. A state based plan is more fiscally responsible to our taxpayers.

Additionally, I believe we need to cut out the middle man in our health care process. Under managed care, they would make your health care decision for you because they feel like they know more about what you need than your provider sitting with you in their office.

SB131 is supported by 16 organizations and thousands of medical professionals across the state. Ultimately, the House voted 73-17 to approve the bill and keep our healthcare dollars in the state.

We also approved two bills this week to keep local pharmacies in business.

Senate Bill 821, which I coauthored, and Senate Bill 737 work together to create a level playing field for locally-owned pharmacies to compete against these big box pharmacies.

Pharmacy benefit managers, which operate these big box pharmacies, run local pharmacies out of business, which means rural Oklahomans would have to drive further to pick up their prescriptions or even ship them to their house.

Both bills were approved by the House; SB821 goes to the Governor and SB737 returns to the Senate for consideration of a House amendment.

On Wednesday, the House approved Senate Bill 229, which creates the Redbud School Funding Act.

The bill proposes using medical marijuana taxes and the Common School Building Equalization Fund to provide annual per-student funding grants to eligible school districts and charter schools.

Essentially, it redirects school funding to help equalize the funding formula for schools serving areas with low-property values that, as a result, don’t receive much local funding.

I also passed two bills this week, Senate Bill 405 and Senate Bill 164.

SB405 modifies the expiration terms for each class of members on the Advisory Committee on Midwifery by staggering their terms.

SB164 authorizes a certain doctors to treat an incapacitated person for an experimental treatment if the patient is in a life-threatening situation and are unconscious or unable to consent. This avenue would only be taken when a patient may be actively dying and current treatments are not working; any experimental treatment used must be part of an approved research study.

The Governor has signed one of my bills into law. House Bill 1902 would allow safety plan monitors to seek medical treatment for a child in their custody. Currently, there is no legal authority for a safety plan monitor to seek medical treatment for the child, even for a checkup.

This bill was requested from a nurse practitioner in a child advocacy center, and I am very glad it was signed by the Governor.

As the end of May approaches, we’ll continue developing the state budget for fiscal year 2022.

Education remains the top priority for the House, and I’ll share more details of the budget as those are finalized.

We’ll now begin hearing Senate amendments to House bills and taking a much closer look at the state budget. Please reach out to my office with any questions or concerns about legislation we may be considering! I can be reached on my office phone at (405) 557-7365 or at cynthia.roe@okhouse.gov.

(Rep. Cynthia Roe, a Republican, represents District 42 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Garvin and McClain counties.)

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