Many healthcare bills passed

by Jessica Garvin

Being that we literally considered nearly 500 bills the two weeks prior to the floor deadline, it’s nearly impossible to stay up on what all legislation was heard. I’d like to touch on some of the more major bills that were approved by the full Senate.

As someone in the healthcare industry, I’ve been pleased to see so many healthcare bills working their way through the legislative process that help protect patients while improving health outcomes.

With healthcare costs continually increasing, the legislature has been working to do what we can at the state level to better protect patients by improving transparency and access. SB 548 addresses and aims to stop the common problem of surprise billing. Under this measure, a health care provider would be prohibited from reporting a healthcare debt to a credit bureau or pursue collection activities unless a good faith estimate of the cost of the procedure or care was presented before the service was provided. This bill will literally change lives as more than 50% of bankruptcies are caused by medical debt. Patients have the right to know before they receive care what it will cost. SB 548 goes a step further and also addresses emergency services in cases where the patient isn’t able to make an informed choice about their care. This will require that insured patients can only be charged the rates for an in-network facility or provider and that uninsured patients can only be charged up to 165% of Medicare.

Often times, health insurance claimed are denied with no explanation from the insurer. This isn’t right so SB 550 would require insurers to send the patient and health care provider a detailed description of the reasoning behind the denial. We must improve transparency in healthcare. This bill was developed with the Oklahoma State Medical Association; Oklahoma Hospital Association; Oklahoma Association of Health Plans; Integris Health; BlueCross/BlueShield of Oklahoma; and the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

Another health-related bill seeks to protect the rights of Oklahoma’s disabled community. Everett’s Law (SB 378) will prohibit discrimination against a potential organ transplant recipient based solely on the individual’s physical or mental disability. The bill was requested by an Edmond family whose three-year-old, Everett, has Down Syndrome and a congenital heart defect. After undergoing five surgeries, the couple found out that Everett could be denied a life-saving transplant simply because of his disability. Around a dozen other states have already approved similar legislation and 12 more are considering it this session. Everett is healthy and doing well after his surgeries, and it was wonderful to get to get to see his and his family’s smiles when we approved this bill unanimously on the Senate floor.

We also addressed another important issue for Oklahoma families who lose a child to miscarriage in the first trimester. SB 647, also known as Lily’s Law, will subject birthing centers and medical facilities to the same requirement of maintaining a written policy for the disposition of a child’s remains from a stillbirth or fetal death event as licensed hospitals. Families should be able to grieve their loss however they want and for many this includes a funeral. This will ensure they have that opportunity.

That’s just a peek at some of the bills we tackled in the Senate. You can see all the bills that were approved on our website at www.oksenate.gov

While it was a slow legislative week, it gave us time to catch up with constituent correspondence and meetings around our districts. I was happy to get to attend the Stephens County GOP Convention. 

Several of us also got the special opportunity to participate in the Oklahoma Youth Expo Legislative Showmanship Competition. I was paired up with Jandi Hurley, a member of the Alex FFA, to help show her sheep, Corona. We had a great time, and I want to thank Jandi again for showing me the ropes. I can’t wait until next year to do it again.

If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.



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