Update on Blue Cross Blue Shield Negotiations

Oklahoma House of Representatives - March 27, 2023 6:54 am

Rep. Talley and intern Journi James, a junior at OSU.

By Rep. John Talley

Last week, I had some visitors from Stillwater Medical Center who attended Medicine Day at the Capitol. I visited with the physicians and administrators about their concerns regarding legislation related to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and the state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE).

They also provided me some helpful information on Stillwater Medical’s negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma. This is a concern multiple constituents have reached out about, so I wanted to share an update.

You may be aware that Stillwater Medical’s contract with BCBSOK expired on Dec. 31, 2022, and there has not yet been a new contract successfully negotiated. Stillwater Medical is currently in a 120-day extension that ends April 30, 2023. After that Stillwater Medical will not be considered in network for BCBSOK.

BCBSOK continues to raise their rates while not passing much profit along to providers. Like many hospitals, Stillwater Medical’s operational costs have increased 26% in the last couple years due to the pandemic, during which time insurance companies made record profits.

Hospitals close when commercial payors don’t pay rates that keep up with cost increases because approximately 65-82% of hospital funding comes from Medicare and Medicaid, which doesn’t cover provider costs. Right now, 33 hospitals have been identified as high risk of closing. That’s almost half of the hospitals within our state.

When hospitals struggle to keep their doors open, the healthcare access of thousands of Oklahomans is put at risk. When a hospital closes, we often see businesses closing or relocating, meaning rural communities could soon face an exodus of people forced to move away.

I appreciate the valuable insight the Stillwater Medical Center group provided me, and I want to thank them for their hard work keeping Oklahomans healthy.  If you have further questions about this, you can find additional information at https://www.stillwater-medical.org/insurance-updates.

Last  week, the Legislature finished a major deadline on Thursday.

We had until March 23 to pass House bills through the House floor ahead of the third reading deadline. Of the 1,901 bills filed this year, we passed 477 to the Senate before the deadline on Thursday, and I’m glad to report that six of my bills moved to the Senate.

Although deadline weeks are very long, they are also very exciting, and I’m glad my intern for the year has been able to witness the legislative process firsthand.

My intern this spring is Journi James, a junior at OSU who transferred from Northeastern State University. Journi grew up in Eufaula and will graduate with her Bachelor’s degree in psychology in December 2024.

I met her through her involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at OSU. Having Journi in the office has been such a pleasure, and I know she will continue to learn more about legislation and how her state government works as she helps me and my staff keep up with our workload.

Now that the House has finished considering House bills, we’ll begin hearing Senate bills in committee before moving them to the floor. As always, please reach out to my office at 405-557-7304 or [email protected] with any questions or concerns about legislation.

Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.

 

 

 

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