State Capitol, Oklahoma City – Governor Brad Henry’s veto of House Bill 1269 on Sunday makes it more likely that Oklahoma heart attack victims might lose their lives and puts Oklahoma-based health insurers at a competitive disadvantage, Senator Scott Pruitt said.
HB 1269 would have limited medical liability associated with Automatic External Defibrillator Systems (AED), allowing the placement of hundreds of defibrillators into public and private institutions.
The bill also would have allowed insurance companies to seek declaratory judgments on insurance coverage issues in state courts. Oklahoma-based insurers, such as the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Farmers Union, and Blue Cross - Blue Shield, need this judicial relief, as these companies do not possess the “diversity of jurisdiction” required to seek relief in federal court, and therefore must file in state court.
“Quick access to an AED is essential if a victim is to survive heart trauma. Currently, many non-profit groups cannot even find a doctor willing to provide prescriptions for AEDs because of liability concerns,” said Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, HB 1269’s Senate author. “This bill could have saved millions of dollars in litigation expenses, the driving force behind rising medical insurance costs.”
“Oklahoma-exclusive insurers currently are at a competitive disadvantage because they cannot seek relief in federal courts. HB 1269 would have allowed declaratory judgments in state courts, leveling the playing field for Oklahoma insurers,” Pruitt said.
HB 1269’s modest reforms were negotiated with the Senate leadership and the trial bar, Pruitt noted. The Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association consented to the language and the measure passed both the House of Representatives and Senate with overwhelming majorities.
“There was no reason to veto this legislation except to prevent additional medical tort reform beyond the crumbs offered in the governor’s own medical liability bill,” Pruitt stated.
HB 1269 Summary
Provided immunity for physicians who provide a prescription for an Automatic External Defibulator System (AED).
Provided immunity for course directors who teach AED usage as part of their CPR curriculum Provided immunity for physicians who provide a prescription for an Automatic External Defibulator System (AED).
Required any facilities which possess an AED to report such location to the local emergency system.
Would have allowed insurance companies to seek declaratory judgments on insurance coverage issues in state courts. Oklahoma domestics such as Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Farmers Union and Blue Cross- Blue Shield do not possess diversity of jurisdiction, which is required to seek relief in federal court.