(The Center Square) - A bill that would fine health insurance companies that fail to pay claims received a do pass recommendation Monday from the Oklahoma Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee.
House Bill 2322, named the Health Care Freedom of Choice Act, would authorize the Oklahoma Insurance Department to hold hearings and levy fines on insurance companies that refuse to pay claims from “practitioners, hospitals, home care agencies, or ambulatory surgical centers despite them meeting requirements for compensation as laid out in the measure,” according to the bill summary.
“The goal of the bill is to try and make those relationships easier between the patient and that other, that individual,” said Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, one of the authors of the bill. “I did go back and talk to all of my hospital administrators that I could get a hold of about the bill, trying to make sure that they were good with this, and every one of them I talked to loved the idea, mostly because they end up having to sue to go get those benefits brought back.”
Although it would cost money to hold hearings, it is expected the department would make the money back through the fines it levied, and, therefore, it was estimated the bill would not affect the state budget, the bill summary said.
When asked by Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, whether the bill poses any downside to patients, Bullard said no.
“Matter of fact, I see the upside where they’re not going to be in conflict with their hospital or provider,” Bullard said.
Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, asked whether the bill was an example of the government being involved in a private business but also said he planned to vote to pass the bill. Bullard said he agreed the bill would interfere with private businesses.
The committee also recommended to pass House Bill 2487, which would move firefighters back to 20 years of service in order to receive retirement benefits. Firefighters are the only workers in Oklahoma’s public safety sector who must serve 22 years, according to bill author Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole.
The bill also would increase how much a volunteer firefighter can be paid and still considered a volunteer from $3,600 a year to $9,900, Taylor said.
via Oklahoma's Center Square News