Capitol report: State leaders reach agency reform agreement

Posted on: 3/8/19

In week five of the legislative session, Gov. Kevin Stitt and House and Senate leadership announced an agreement that they claim would bring more accountability to state government by giving the governor the ability to hire the directors of the state’s largest agencies. The affected agencies are the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (SB 456), Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (HB 2483), Office of Juvenile Affairs (HB 2479), Department of Corrections (HB 2480), and the Department of Transportation (SB 457). The key parts of the agreement in the process of being enacted into law are:
  • The governor would have the authority to hire and fire the agency leader with Senate confirmation.
  • State agencies would maintain governing boards, but board members will serve at will and a conflict of interest provision is included in the legislation.
  • The governor would appoint a majority of the board members, and the House and Senate would gain appointment seats on the boards.
  • The House and Senate would be able to remove agency directors with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
Governor requests Oklahoma Health Care Authority audit: Gov. Stitt has asked State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd to begin a new audit looking into Medicaid enrollment processes for a three-year period. For more information on the new audit, click here.

“The OHCA welcomes an audit of our processes,” said OHCA Senior Public Information Representative Katelynn Burns. In addition to the audit ordered by the new governor, the agency is scheduled to begin a Medicaid Eligibility Quality Control audit this calendar year, according to information it provided during a joint House, Senate budget meeting in January. This program requires each state to report to the secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the ratio of its erroneous excess payments for medical assistance under its state plan to its total expenditures for medical assistance based on a sample of 800 cases. Information provided to the legislative committees show the audit will allow for identification of any errors in processing, or procedural weaknesses that can be addressed and strengthened. It is one of several audits the agency undergoes regularly.

Senate appropriations chair comments on Medicaid expansion: After SB 605, creating the Oklahoma Plan to accept federal funds to cover the uninsured, did not receive a hearing in the Senate Committee on Appropriations prior to the Feb. 28 committee deadline, Sen. Roger Thompson made it clear to supporters that the bill is not “dead” but needs further work and will be considered later in session in the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget. To hear Sen. Thompson’s plan, watch a video he created, click here.

Status of bills supported by OHA - House/Senate floor: HB 1089, SHOPP, extends the sunset date from Dec. 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2025, passed House floor; SB 704, provides protection for living organ donors under the Oklahoma Living Organ Donor Fairness Act, by providing fairness in treatment by life insurance carriers, passed Senate floor; HB 2288, removes loopholes in the Oklahoma Clean Indoor Air Act, pending vote on House floor; HB 2285, updates the duties of the Hospital Advisory Council, passed House floor; HB 2351, creates the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which provides a framework and process for multi-state medical licenses of physicians, passed House floor; HB 2460, removes smokers as a protected class in employment law, pending vote on House floor; HB 2612, creates the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, passed House floor; HB 2631, increases workers’ compensation fee schedule by 3 percent for physicians and hospitals, pending action on House floor; SB 86, expands definitions of medical care providers related to aggravated assault and battery with a firearm beyond emergency care providers, passed Senate floor; SB 575, modifies the statute for parental consent for the treatment of minors to allow for written consent for a telemedicine encounter, there by removing a barrier for implementation of school-based telemedicine by requiring the parent to be present during the visit, passed Senate floor; and, SB 848, addresses the opioid epidemic while advocating for physicians to determine patient care in post-surgical situations in the prescribing of opioids, pending vote on Senate floor.

Deadlines: Thursday, March 14, is the deadline for bills and resolutions to be reported from the floor of the house of introduction (third reading) to the opposite house. House bills go the Senate and Senate bills go to the House for consideration.

For more information about specific legislation, please email Shelly Bush, education & government relations assistant, (Lynne White)

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