From the Desk of Sen. Jessica Garvin: April 29, 2021

by Jessica Garvin

We’re into the 13th week of session and are nearing the end with at most five weeks left. We started the session with over 3,000 bills filed Senate and House. We’ve spent the last three months carefully considering these measures in committee and on the floor, and now we have decreased that number to just over 600 bills.

Around 100 of those were amended in one of the chambers, and those changes are now being considered. If the amendments are approved, the bill moves on to the governor’s desk. If not, a conference committee will be convened to try to work out compromise language to try to get the bill to the governor.

Six of my bills have been signed into law. I mentioned a few last week, and I’d like to talk about the others. SB 4 authorizes a pharmacist to substitute an interchangeable biological product for a prescribed biological product if the substituted product has been determined by the FDA to be interchangeable. This is an effort to help make medications more affordable.

HB 1152 removes the requirement to possess a minimum level of court reporting proficiency for applicants seeking to be examined for enrollment as a certified shorthand reporter.

HB 1773 directs preservice teacher preparation programs to require teacher candidates in early childhood, elementary, secondary, and special education to study the philosophy, framework, components and implementation of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to address core academic and nonacademic needs of students.

Finally, HB 2352 authorizes that the Director of the Department of Human Services and the Executive Director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs to enter into agreements on behalf of the state with Oklahoma Indian tribes regarding jurisdiction over child custody proceedings.

As of Monday, I had four more Senate bills and two House bills awaiting the governor’s consideration.

In closing, I want to talk about one of my bills, SB 131, that will be most likely be going to conference committee. Originally, my bill authorized facilities without a pharmacy license to dispense dialysate, or certain dialysis devices, for patients with end-stage renal disease. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate, but then the House introduced a committee substitute—meaning they gutted the measure and replaced it with another bill, the Oklahomans Caring for Oklahomans Act, as an alternative to the governor’s proposed managed care system to address the voter-approved upcoming Medicaid expansion.

Having worked in the healthcare industry for more than 15 years, I’m personally not a fan of managed care from having read how much more expensive it has proven to be in other states, with no improved health outcomes, but I’m curious what you think about this issue.
SB 131 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to implement the Act by developing a program that controls costs and improves health outcomes for Medicaid recipients. It directs the OHCA to include the following program elements:

Prevention – enrollment and renewal in the program would include a standard baseline risk assessment identifying social health risks

Chronic care management – a plan for chronic care coordination to include medication therapy management, patient education, interaction between OHCA and beneficiaries, and development of long-term wellness plan

Payment reform – OHCA to develop a transition care management plan and establish value-based payments for providers

SB 131 would further require the OHCA to maximize the sharing of health information among providers to reduce redundancy. Additionally, any program for sharing data would also have the ability to screen for social determinants of health. Partnerships with tribal nations would be maintained and enhanced under the bill.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this way of expanding Medicaid versus the governor’s managed care plan.