2024 Oklahoma legislative session in review: Healthcare edition

Aerial View of Oklahoma State Capitol Complex

While the healthcare industry was not a specific area of focus for this year’s Oklahoma legislative session as it has been in previous years when Medicaid reform and managed care were addressed, a number of bills were passed that directly impact Oklahoma healthcare providers and consumers. Below is a summary of the notable legislation and their effective dates.

Budget appropriations
Budget negotiations for fiscal year 2025 dominated a lot of the Oklahoma Legislature’s attention this session, which is not necessarily unusual.  What was unique about the budget negotiations this year was that they were protracted and, for the most part, done in public and streamed online.

Of significance to the healthcare industry:

  • The Oklahoma Health Care Authority was allocated $30 million for the purpose of increasing long-term care provider rates.
  • The Legislature appropriated more than $5 million to support a 30% increase in Oklahoma’s psychiatric residency positions
  • A 7.8% budget increase was approved for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
  • House Bill 2924 appropriated approximately $25.7 million from the Opioid Lawsuit Settlement Fund to the Oklahoma Opioid Abatement Revolving Fund.

Ensuring Access to Medicaid Act amendments
The Ensuring Access to Medicaid Act was originally passed in 2022 to establish the Medicaid managed care program known as SoonerSelect. Senate Bill 1675, which passed this session,  made two important changes to the Act. First, the definition of “provider-led entity” was revised and a definition of “provider-owned entity” was added. The Legislature intended to provide a way for an Oklahoma-based company to be awarded a contract with OHCA to participate in SoonerSelect so long as the other requirements were met. Due to the lack of clarity in the applicable statutory definitions and language, this did not occur in the first contract award process.

Now, 56 O.S. 4j002.3b.D.2 has been added, which provides, in pertinent part, “[A]t least one capitated contract to provide statewide coverage to Medicaid members shall be awarded to a provider-owned entity, as long as the provider-owned entity submits a responsive reply to the Authority’s request for proposals demonstrating ability to fulfill the contract requirements.”

The bill also extended the rate floor from July 1, 2026, to July 1, 2027, to help insulate providers from rate cuts. Extending this floor will likely continue to be a legislative priority of trade associations representing providers.

Effective date: June 14, 2024

Social workers
In an effort to address shortage of mental health providers across the state, House Bill 3015 was enacted to change the postgraduate experience requirements from two (2) years of full-time experience to 3,000 hours, which is more in line with the requirements of other states. Too often, social workers were being educated in Oklahoma, but then leaving the state to complete the supervised practice requirements because Oklahoma’s requirements were not consistent with the national standard. The hope is that clarifying the postgraduate supervision requirements will assist with the recruitment and retention of more social workers.

Effective date: November 1, 2024

Psychologist license reciprocity
House Bill 1345 removes a barrier for out-of-state psychologists who want to practice in Oklahoma by allowing the Oklahoma State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to enter into licensure reciprocity agreements with other states and jurisdictions.

Effective date: April 26, 2024

Liability protections for administering emergency opioid antagonists
Senate Bill 1740 was passed and went into effect on the Governor’s signature earlier this year. It provides immunity from civil damages to first responders and other “Good Samaritans” administering an emergency opioid antagonist in good faith.

Effective date: April 22, 2024

Certificate of need for psychiatric and drug dependency services eliminated
House Bill 2330 repealed the law that required providers to apply for a certificate of need issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to establish or expand psychiatric or drug dependency services or facilities.

Effective date: May 6, 2024

Health information exchange
House Bill 3556 amends the health information exchange statute by striking the word “shall” and replacing it with “may” to clarify that providers are not required under state law to submit protected health information to the health information exchange.

Effective date: November 1, 2024

Rights of relatives of deceased persons
Senate Bill 707 creates several rights or benefits for the relatives of deceased persons, including:

  • The right to be informed whether or not an autopsy was conducted by the Medical Examiner;
  • The right to be informed that relatives may request a private autopsy;
  • The ability to contact a family assistance coordinator withing the Medical Examiner’s office; and
  • Establishing that the investigation of the cause of death be completed within 60 days, absent extraordinary circumstances, so that families may have closure.

Effective date: November 1, 2024

Out-of-network ambulance reimbursement
The Out-of-Network Ambulance Service Provider Act, House Bill 2872, is aimed at addressing the high out-of-network costs of ground ambulance transport services that were not addressed by federal price transparency laws. It establishes payment limits and requires compliance with certain claims requirements.

Effective date: January 1, 2025

Prior authorization
The Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization Act, House Bill 3190, establishes timeframes and procedures for obtaining prior authorizations from insurance companies for medical services. It takes effect January 1, 2025, and was unanimously passed by both chambers. Specifically, the act requires insurance companies to:

  • Employ licensed medical professionals to make determinations that deny care;
  • Update authorization systems;
  • Publish prior authorization requirements online; and
  • Honor prior authorizations for at least 45 days, or 6 months in the case of chronic conditions.

Effective date: January 1, 2025

If you have any questions about these or other healthcare industry matters, please don’t hesitate to contact your McAfee & Taft Healthcare attorney.

McAfee & Taft is pleased to welcome Cori Loomis, a highly experienced healthcare attorney with 30 years of experience in both private practice and public service, to our Healthcare Group, which has been perennially top-ranked by the publishers of the exclusive Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Cori’s practice is focused on representing and counseling hospitals and health systems, physicians and medical practices, and other healthcare providers on a broad range of transactional, operational, legislative, administrative and regulatory compliance matters.