There are several Bills working through the Oklahoma House and Senate which have the ability to either positively or negatively impact EMS in our state. We want you to be aware and also hear what work OKAMA is doing on behalf of both member and non-member EMS entities to ensure the funding of EMS systems while keeping citizens safe. Below is a brief summary of the legislative initiatives. Remember that you can look them up to read them in detail and also follow their progress in the Chambers and Committees by using this search:
HJR1057 – Proposed amendments increase the Mill Levy cap for 522 District funding. In current form, the proposed cap increases from 3 mills to 10 mills. OKAMA is actively encouraging lawmakers to pass this measure. As you speak with your legislators and their constituents, remind them that, with this important constitutional change, taxation does not automatically increase for taxpayers. Successfully seeing this bill pass would then allow communities who are served by a 522 District to vote on how much they are willing to enhance EMS funding in their area, or, allow it to remain the same. Even if your EMS agency is not part of a 522 District, we believe it is important for you to support this measure. We all benefit when EMS systems anywhere in Oklahoma find supporters to enhance system funding!
SB1441 – This Senate Bill adds language in 63 O.S. 2021, Section 1-2515 that would allow EMS companies to contract with hospitals in ANY area of the state to provide interfacility transports. This practice would be allowed even when a sole-source or exclusive contract is in place with the local EMS entity. OKAMA strongly opposes the proposed language and is asking legislators to vote against it. You know that local EMS services rely on user revenues generated from providing both emergency and non-emergency transports to the communities they serve. OKAMA believes the passage of this measure would threaten funding systems in place for local EMS, and bypass EMS oversight and medical direction mechanisms established by those local communities.
SB1515 – Amendatory language addresses Title 63, Section 1-2503, beginning with a proposed change to allow certified EMRAs to transport patients in limited situations and only upon approval of appropriate medical control. Later in the document is new language that removes, from transport protocols, an obligation to transport some patients whose condition does not warrant ambulance transportation. It would be a good idea if you read those sections in the bill to understand better what they mean to you. OKAMA is currently choosing neither to support nor oppose this bill. It may make sense that some EMS agencies and patient populations could benefit from the language change. However, it will be wise to follow this bill and anticipate what conversations you will want to have with your medical director and area EMRAs should it pass. OKAMA believes that successful implementation of either of these changes will depend on strong communication between public entities, active medical director involvement, and robust polices that emphasize patient safety.
HB3132 – Language in the bill proposes new law to be codified in a new section identified as Section 1-2516.1 of Title 63. This change would allow the governing body of (local EMS) “…to enter into agreements with local first responder agencies…for the purpose of acquiring assistance with emergency medical response.” The language is vague and does not specify EMR, police officer, firefighter or other specific first responders. It appears that the local governing body would determine who they would allow to respond to or from an emergency request in the ambulance. OKAMA recognizes the need to support ambulance services of all sizes across the state, and we know many services are struggling to secure traditional EMS employees. The vagueness of the language is concerning. OKAMA continues to evaluate this bill and we would appreciate hearing from you if you have a position on the proposed amendment.
HB4371 – Proposed language here would amend Title 85A, Section 47 (worker’s compensation) and is specific to weekly benefits paid to a surviving spouse of public safety officers (including EMTs). Existing language identifies that those payments would continue while the surviving spouse remains unmarried. The proposed change would continue those payments whether or not the surviving spouse remarries. OKAMA supports the amended language and encourages legislators to unanimously support it. We appreciate that the state recognizes the important contribution that EMS providers make to the well-being of Oklahomans.