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Oklahoma Health Reform—2009 Legislative Session


Email Alert

By Cori H. Loomis*

May 28, 2009

The Oklahoma State Legislature adjourned its 2009 session on Tuesday, May 26. The final actions taken regarding legislation summarized in previous Oklahoma reform updates are indicated below.

Healthcare Reform

HB 2026 (Passed, Effective November 1, 2009): Creates the "Health Care for Oklahomans Act." Among the stated goals of the Act is to "lower the number of uninsured, assist businesses in their ability to afford health care benefits and coverage for their employees and eliminate barriers to providing health coverage to eligible enrollees under federal law." The Act provides for the following:

  • Directs the Insurance Commissioner (Commissioner), in collaboration with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), to establish and advise the Health Care for the Uninsured Board (HUB). The HUB shall:
    • Advise and consult with the Commissioner regarding a system of certification for insurance programs offered in this state and recommended by the HUB;
    • Establish a system for the credentialing of insurance producers who intend to market insurance programs certified by the HUB;
    • Establish a system of counseling for those individuals who are without health insurance and are not covered by Medicaid that includes: educating consumers, aiding consumers in choosing policies, and educating consumers on how to utilize primary and preventative care.
    • Establish a system whereby if an individual qualifies for a subsidy under the premium assistance program, that person is able to become enrolled through the HUB in conjunction with local, qualified agents.
  • Directs the Commissioner, in collaboration with OHCA, to initiate a program with Oklahoma hospitals and healthcare providers to refer them to the HUB and initiate enrollment at point of service.
  • Authorizes health plans to offer standard health benefit plans to individuals under forty years of age. These are plans that do not provide state-mandated health benefits but that provide creditable coverage.
  • Authorizes the OHCA to create as part of the premium assistance program an option to purchase a high-deductible health insurance plan that is compatible with a health savings account.

Mandate Review

HB 1038 (Failed): Would have: (a) permitted the offering of mandate-free health plans; (b) authorized health plans to offer standard health benefit plans to individuals under age forty, accompanied by a policy with state-mandated health benefits.

HB 1975 (Vetoed): Would have: (a) established requirements for introduction of mandate legislation; (b) required that any bill that mandates health coverage for specific benefits be introduced in odd-numbered years and passed in even-numbered years; and (c) required organizations advocating a mandated benefit to submit a report to the respective house assessing the financial impact of the proposed coverage.

SB 822 (Passed):

  • Creates the Task Force on the Review of Health Insurance Mandates
  • Creates a task force to review and evaluate the health insurance mandates that are currently provided for by law.
  • The bill requires the task force to submit a report to the governor, House speaker, and Senate president pro tempore by no later than Dec. 1, 2010, with recommendations as to whether any existing mandates should be revised or eliminated.

Insure Oklahoma

SB 59 (Failed): Would have: (a) modified "Insure Oklahoma" eligibility; (b) clarified "for-profit employer" is an entity that is not exempt from taxation pursuant to the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; (c) clarified "not-for-profit employer" shall mean an entity that is exempt from taxation pursuant to the provisions of Section
501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; (d) included foster parents that are employed by employers with more than 250 employees; and (e) expanded coverage to veterans who are not on active duty and who have not been dishonorably discharged who meet certain eligibility criteria.

HJR 1035 (Failed): Proposed a constitutional amendment modifying appropriation limitations from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund. This would require a vote of the people.

*AHLA wishes to thank Cori H. Loomis, Esquire (Crowe & Dunlevy PC, Oklahoma City, OK) for writing this alert.

The Healthcare Reform Educational Task Force is a joint endeavor of the Healthcare Liability and Litigation; Hospitals and Health Systems; In-House Counsel; Payors, Plans, and Managed Care; Physician Organizations; Regulation, Accreditation, and Payment; and Teaching Hospitals and Academic Medical Centers Practice Groups.
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