Health care, education bills pass in committee
This was an abbreviated week in the House because of the snow and ice that covered much of the state. Still, we were able to pass many bills in committee and several on the House floor.
One of the bills heard in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee this week would protect the rights of patients and health care providers in the event the state moves forward with the managed care system the governor is pushing.
House Bill 1091 creates the Ensuring Access to Medicaid Act and establishes the conditions for which Oklahoma health care providers will participate in the program. The bill specifies how claims are to be processed, ensures payments made to providers are timely and that rates are following the fee schedules in effect at the date of service. It also details how quickly treatment must be authorized. No matter what delivery system is in place, the overall goal is to ensure Oklahomans have access to quality health care with an eye toward reducing poor health outcomes.
My House Bill 2119 also passed in the A&B Committee on Thursday. This bill would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to give nursing homes and long-term health care facilities the enhanced COVID Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) money the authority was given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the pandemic. Yet, OHCA has not given these facilities this funding, and they so desperately need it. They have been on the frontline in this pandemic and have born extra costs as a result.
Also passed in committee this week were a few education bills that could result in changes to the school funding formula and the state’s open transfer law.
House Bill 2078 would revise the way schools count students to receive funding. Currently, schools are allowed to use the highest weighted average daily membership count from either the current school year or the previous two. This bill would remove the third year. The hope is to keep funding with the student in the school where they currently are being taught. If nothing changes, the state will pay $200 million for about 55,000 students who are being double or triple counted under the current structure.
The House Common Education Committee, meanwhile, passed House Bill 2074 that would allow any public school student to transfer to another public school of their choice at any time in the school year. Currently, the law allows emergency transfers only within certain timeframes. While the sending school could no longer deny a transfer request, the receiving school is allowed to set capacity limits, but those limits must posted publicly. The receiving school could deny a transfer request based on the student’s disciplinary or attendance record. Advocates of this bill argue it allows parent choice within our public school system.
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