Oklahoma Legislative Updates

 

Clay Taylor, The Taylor Group is OPA's contract lobbyist.  Along with our Executive Director, Danna Fowble who is also a registered lobbyist, work on behalf of OPA membership to protect the practice of psychology. 

 

As you recall, this past session, a balance budget was reached yet given the ruling on the tobacco tax being unconstitutional, legislators spent eight weeks in special session this fall.  A budget was sent to the Governor and most of the new money ideas were vetoed.

 

eCapitol News

Special session funds provide protection for programs, agencies say

Author:

Tyler Talley

Date:

11/27/2017


(eCap) The sections of the revised fiscal year 2018 budget signed by Gov. Mary Fallin will temporarily protect funding for key health and human services program, the agencies said.

Fallin vetoed all but five of the 170 sections in HB1019X hours after it passed off the Senate floor. Three of those provisions direct one-time money from the Special Cash Fund towards the three health agencies impacted by the loss of the cigarette fee increase, declared unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in August.

Fallin inadvertently over-appropriated from the Special Cash Fund, however, and as a result the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) had to prorate the amounts distributed to the agencies.

According to OMES, The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) received $22.9 million; Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) received $30.2 million; and Department of Human Services (DHS) received $27.0 million.

Each of the agencies has since reacted to the newly monies in a variety of ways.

OHCA set emergency meetings for Dec. 1for both the State Plan Amendment Rate Committee (SPARC) and its governing board to amend provider rate reductions.

The boards approved a series of rate reductions on Nov. 9 that are set to take effect Dec. 1 in anticipation for a projected $70 million hole in fiscal year 2018. These changes included a 9 percent across the board provider rate cut and a 4 percent cut to nursing facilities.

With the receipt of $22.8 million, the agency intends to postpone and reduce some of these reductions until Jan 1.

According to the SPARC meeting notification filed with OMES, OHCA now plans to submit across-the-board provider rate reductions of 6 percent, with exceptions, and 1 percent for nursing facilities as well as eliminating Medicare crossover coinsurance and deductible payments for nursing facilities, effective Jan. 1.

In a release, OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard noted that her agency remains $9.5 million short of a balanced budget even with the appropriations and modified reductions however.

"We will continue to work with leadership to try to find funding solutions that will fully fund the agency and possibly allow us to reverse these reductions," she added.

The appropriation ODMHSAS received shrinks its respective budget gap to approximately $21.5 million for the current fiscal year. In addition to Special Cash Fund monies, the agency also received a $23.3 million appropriation from the Rainy Day Fund, HB1081X.

According to a statement from the agency, the funds will carry it into the spring but will still involve cuts to vital treatment services if a funding solution is not found. A final plan on what said cuts would entail has yet to be developed.

DHS announced last week it would not have to reduce or eliminate service programs for seniors and people with disabilities on Dec. 1 and Jan. 1 as previously planned as a result of the money it received.

These include the Advantage Waiver program, Adult Day Services, Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) Adult In-Home Supports Waiver, and DDS Sheltered Workshop and Community Integrated Employment programs.

"This funding allows us to stop these devastating cuts and continue providing critical services beyond Dec 1; however, we are still $42 million short of a balanced budget," DHS Director Ed Lake said in a release. "We will be working closely with the administration and legislative leaders in the upcoming weeks as they work to develop funding solutions for these services.

DHS leadership is working to determine exactly how long it can sustain its programs with current funding and intends to release more details over the coming weeks.

The Oklahoma Psychological Association’s mission is to promote human welfare
in Oklahoma by advancing psychology as a science and profession.

 

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