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General Overview:
The first session of the 57th Legislature is in the history books, and Governor Stitt and state lawmakers have checked many of the boxes they told voters they would. In total, over 500 bills were signed into law.

With an improving economy, the state passed an $8.1 billion FY2020 budget. Notably, lawmakers set aside $200 million for the state’s savings account in order to protect core services in the future, putting Oklahoma on the path to saving more than $1 billion by the end of FY2020 – the largest savings in state history.

Health Care Appropriations:
A series of appropriation increases for health care programs were announced, including $29 million to be saved to a new preservation fund to maintain Medicaid provider rates when the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) three-year rolling average results in a rate decline. Additionally, the final budget included a $105 million reallocation to increase Medicaid provider rates for physicians, hospitals and nursing homes by approximately 5 percent. Nursing homes, in particular, can claim a major victory, as they successfully passed the Nursing Home Quality Assurance Initiative, which increases their reimbursement rates by approximately 15 percent, while introducing new metrics for quality improvement.

Government Reforms:
Lawmakers approved several reforms that gave the governor more direct control of state agencies. These reforms included granting the governor the power to appoint the directors of some of Oklahoma's largest state agencies, including the Department of Corrections, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Department of Human Services, Department of Transportation, and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Also, lawmakers passed legislation creating the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), which will conduct performance evaluations of agencies. These reforms now create a dynamic shift in our efforts to work with both agency heads and lawmakers throughout the summer and fall.

Possible Medicaid Expansion:
When it came time to address the state’s rate of uninsured Oklahomans, the Legislature flirted with the idea of passing an “Oklahoma Plan” for Medicaid expansion, but ultimately took no action. Stitt says he will release his own comprehensive health care plan in October and pursue it in the 2020 legislative session. In the meantime, a coalition of health care groups is pursuing a ballot initiative that would allow Oklahoma voters the option of Medicaid Expansion as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. How the Legislature, Stitt and health care groups navigate around these competing plans may be the defining policy issue of the next legislative session. Our focus is on driving the conversation to help shape the future of health care in Oklahoma with physical therapy at the forefront.

OPTA Successes:
OPTA is proud to celebrate a very successful 2019 legislative session. Our priority bills, SB806 and HR2571, both passed the Legislature and were signed by Governor Stitt. SB806 adds Nurse Practitioners to our provider list from whom we are able to accept a physical therapy referral, effective November 1st 2019. HB2571, enacted with emergency action, clarified previously passed language in regard to Oklahoma’s participation in the PT Licensure Compact.

PT Licensure Compact:
There are still several hurdles to pass before we are in the position to participate in the PT Licensure Compact. The Compact Administrators are in contact with the OMBLS to work through several key aspects including reapplication to the FBI for authorization to conduct background checks for licensure applicants and setting up processes for background checks. Once that approval is received, setting up licensure data exchange between the licensing board and the Commission, and setting fees for compact privileges will need to happen. As you can see, it is a very tedious and thorough process.

Dues Make Advocacy Possible
A special thanks to all OPTA members for your trust and support in our legislative efforts. Your membership dues are the sole reason we are able to pay for the lobbying, research and public relations services we access in our efforts to help drive the profession forward. If you are a member and know someone who is not, please reach out and encourage your colleagues to join APTA and OPTA, because our profession depends on it.

What's Next:
The interim will demand us to be very active, as healthcare potentially is a defining policy issue in 2020. If you have any contacts or communication that may be of assistance to our legislative team, please reach out immediately. Also if you have any questions, thoughts or comments reach out as well.


Brandon Trachman, PT, DPT, OCS
OPTA State Government Affairs Chairman

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