With more than a month of work behind us, we’ll pass another deadline this Thursday. We have more than 200 more Senate bills to get out of our chamber before returning to our committees to begin work on House bills next week. We will then spend the next month working on those House bills that made it over to the Senate. I have eight more Senate bills working their way through the process. Five of them (SBs 1349, 1748, 1768 & 1802) have already moved on to the House. I have two other bills (SBs 1661 & 1729) that must be heard this week to move forward.
SB 1748, also known as the Patient Disclosure Act, has moved on to a House committee. The bill is sponsored by the Oklahoma Hospital Association (OHA) and creates a method for patients to be treated for an emergency before they’re asked for payment by all hospitals and know whether their insurance will pay for the visit. The bill creates a level playing field in hospital licensure by requiring an emergency department to adopt the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. It also requires transparency to patients by indicating
if the facility accepts Medicare, Medicaid and other federally-sponsored insurance. This bill is also supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shields as well as other OHA member hospitals. SB 1768 deals with the County Health Department Restructuring Administrative Services Plan. It will give greater flexibility to counties to work together by allowing them to more easily enter into agreements and pool resources to address regional health needs. Any operational changes or contractual agreements would require the county commissioner’s approval. Last year, OSDH reduced administrative teams from 14 to nine. They reinvested the savings in staff salaries to increase retention and enhance recruitment. They also redirected the savings for direct service staff to enhance capacity by adding community epidemiologist, strategic health planners and enhanced health promotion staff in the counties.
Overall, local public health systems, especially in rural Oklahoma will be strengthened with broader public health expertise. In order to expand services to ensure the greatest impact on community health OSDH with SB 1768 will be able to implement new programs at the county health departments including:
• Mobile clinics to expand public health services in rural communities
• Greater emphasis on chronic disease screenings and education
• Expanded utilization of community health workers
• Partnering in support of after-school programming.
This week, our office was pleased to have Elgin junior Shawn Hilliary. His assistance was greatly appreciated during this extremely busy week. Again, please check out the Senate website (www.oksenate.gov) to stay up on everything happening. You can also follow us on Twitter @OKSENATEINFO or on Facebook at Oklahoma State Senate. If you ever have a question or concern about legislation or an issue, please contact my office or visit our website where you can read bills in their entirety. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation gets passed around on social media about bills so always do your own research by checking legitimate sources. At the State Senate, I can be reached by writing to Senator Chris Kidd, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 420, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, emailing me at email@example.com, or by calling (405) 521-5563 and speaking to my assistant Suzanne Earnest.