June 2, 2010
By Cori Loomis*
The Oklahoma legislature adjourned for the 2010 session on Mary 27, 2010. Although the budget was the primary focus of the session, there were several interesting bills pertaining to healthcare reform addressed during this session. Below is a summary of such bills.Bills Pertaining to National Healthcare Reform
Senate Joint Resolution 59—Passed
Although several bills were introduced regarding federal healthcare reform, only one survived. Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 59 is a joint resolution that will give Oklahomans the opportunity to express how they feel about national healthcare reform; it easily passed the Oklahoma legislature. SJR 59 allows voters to approve a constitutional amendment prohibiting a law from compelling any person, employer, or healthcare provider from participating in any healthcare system and allowing a person or employer to pay directly for healthcare services without being required to pay penalties or fines. It will be placed on the November 2, 2010, ballot.
Another joint resolution, House Joint Resolution 1054, was passed by the legislature, but vetoed by Governor Mike Beebe (D). The Senate overrode the veto, but the House did not, so the veto stands. It would have permitted state officials to sue the federal government and would allow the state to opt out of the national healthcare reform.Insurance Claims Fee
This bill came as a surprise to many industry insiders and was the result of last-minute negotiations to balance the budget. It establishes a 1% fee on healthcare claims to provide money for the state's Medicaid program. The fee will be paid by insurance companies and companies that self-insure employees. Many opponents see it as a penalty on employers trying to provide healthcare services to their employees. Other opponents are calling the fee a tax. The measure is expected to generate $78 million a year to be matched with about $190 million in federal funds in the 2011 fiscal year, starting July 1, 2010.Other Insurance Bills
SB 1251 prohibits health benefit plans from: denying coverage; refusing to issue or renew coverage; cancel or otherwise terminate; or restrict or exclude any person from any health benefit plan issued or renewed on or after November 1, 2010, on the basis of the applicant's or insured's status as a victim of domestic abuse. It also prohibits health benefit plans from denying a claim on the basis of the insured's status as a victim of domestic violence, and it prohibits domestic abuse from being considered a preexisting condition. This bill was sent to Beebe on May 28, 2010.
SB 2046 creates the Health Care Choice Act to increase the availability of health insurance coverage by allowing insurers authorized to engage in the business of insurance in other states to issue accident and health policies in Oklahoma. The bill requires certain disclosures and permits the insurance commissioner to promulgate rules necessary to implement the act. The bill also prohibits insurance companies from using preexisting conditions as a basis for denying a claim during certain time periods. This bill was sent to Beebe on May 28, 2010.
*We would like to thank Cori H. Loomis, JD (Crowe & Dunlevy PC, Oklahoma City, OK), for providing this email alert.