Final 2020 Oklahoma Aging Partnership Legislative Tracking Report by Esther Houser

Since we have just wrapped up the 2020 Oklahoma Legislature’s “real” Session, let’s take a look at what’s left of our Legislative priorities and what got accomplished.
First, some good news: The Session is OVER!! YEA!! And a bill was passed to assure the right of residents in Assisted Living Facilities to have video cameras in their rooms. This bill extends the power of Nursing Home residents, which the Silver-Haired Legislature previously secured a few years ago. Plus, we made progress on several priority areas while the Legislators were still at the Capitol. A bill to eliminate sales tax on Hearing Aids (HB 3462 by Rep. Todd Russ) and one to restrict the use of antipsychotic drugs in Assisted Living Facilities (HB 3463 by Rep. Tammy West) passed with strong support in the House of Representatives, they never got heard in the Senate.

We did manage to see some acknowledgment of Senior issues in the DHS spending limits bill – it expressed the legislature’s intent that the number of funded Senior Nutrition sites not fall below current levels. We did not, however, succeed in securing restoration of funding to the Older Americans Network due to the negative budget impacts of the pandemic.
A vital bill (HB3757) by Rep. Nicole Miller, that failed to be heard by the author in the Senate (Sen. Frank Simpson), would have made the Alzheimer’s Specialized Care Disclosure Form (required by the State Health Dept. in LTC settings that claim to provide such care, including those facilities that advertise themselves as “memory care”) part of the contract between the provider and the consumer. Representative Nicole Miller, the principal author in the House, will continue to pursue this critical
legislation in the future, we believe.
One last thing: Rep. Lewis Moore sneaked a bill past us to amend the law passed by the Silver-Haired Legislature just last year. The SHL bill by Haljean Gillispie includes a prohibition against Medicare Supplement Policies having Premiums raised more than once per year. State Insurance Dept. got in touch with me at the end of this Legislative Session to ask if the SHL had endorsed an exception to our law to allow Insurance companies that sold fewer than 5,000 policies to raise their premiums more than once per year! I told them NO; we didn’t endorse any bill to do that, nor were we consulted on it! One Okla. The city-based insurance company wanted such an exception, but there may be other companies, so BEWARE. The new bill doesn’t go into effect until November, so the Deputy Insurance Commissioner has told me
that no policies sold for 2021 will be affected. That should give us time to amend the new law or repeal it during the 2021 Legislative Session. Stay tuned.
And, of course, STAY SAFE! Please wear a mask when you’re out in public, avoid crowds, keep “social distancing,” and try out Zoom and other technological advances to keep yourself engaged in the world while you’re safe at home. Be well!
Know that your Aging Partnership and the Strategy Team are continuing to work via Conference Calls to have input into a nursing home and Medicaid issues, especially. Remember that you can look at the text of legislation at http://www.oklegislature.gov and also stay up to date on Interim Studies through that website.

Published by Ken Jones

Since 2006 I have worked at the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments where I am responsible for the Area Agency on Aging. In 2018 I began the most successful weight loss journey of my life.

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