OPINION

Measure will require disclosure of prices for health services

Rep. Ken Luttrell

We are less than three weeks away from our constitutionally required end date for this year’s legislative session. The Capitol has been flurry of activity with bills being sent to the governor for review and approval and others going into joint conference committees of the House and Senate for final perfection. I wanted to highlight a few of the things we have been working on.

Oklahoma House Republicans are pushing a significant education funding increase as a “must-have” in current state budget negotiations. The House this year prioritized common education funding reform with measures that increase per-student funding and equalize appropriations for all districts. We support at least $135 million in additional state common education funding so public schools can enact classroom size limits for kindergarten and first grade as specified in state law through House Bill 1017, enacted in 1990, and Senate Bill 193, enacted in 2019.

The education funding increase would restore one-time, pandemic-related reductions from last session and add additional funds into the funding formula to trigger the class-size reductions. Providing an environment that helps both our students and our teachers thrive and succeed is of paramount importance. Studies have shown that smaller class sizes in a student’s formative years lead to better outcomes down the road. This additional education funding will make that happen.

Last week the governor also signed a bill requiring health care providers, groups and facilities to make cash prices for their most commonly provided services available to consumers. House Bill 1006 creates the Transparency in Health Care Prices Act and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. Under the measure, the term "health care prices" means the cash price a provider, group or facility will charge a patient for a standard service. This pricing list shall be made available either on the provider’s website or other conspicuous posting. Health care facilities also would be required to make common diagnosis and outpatient CPT codes public. The price would, of course, not include any amount in the case of complications or exceptional treatment. The document must be updated at least annually. The bill would prohibit the review of healthcare prices by any agency and interference in contracts between private parties.

Finally, more of Oklahoma’s retired teachers can return to the classroom following the signing of Senate Bill 267. This bill would remove the earnings cap for retired educators who choose to return to the profession. Currently, returning retired teachers can only make up to $15,000 a year. Under SB 267, those who were retired as of July 1, 2020, have received retirement benefits for at least one year and have not been employed by a public school during that period can return to the classroom for three years with no earnings cap.   

That’s it for this week. If I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at 405-557-7355 or email me at ken.luttrell@okhouse.gov.