A bill aimed at helping the more than 700,000 Oklahomans who are without health insurance cleared another legislative hurdle today as it passed off the Senate floor. Senate author of the bill, Tom Adelson, (D-Tulsa) said the measure requires hospitals to extend discounts for certain income eligible patients. Senate Bill 848 now goes to the House where it is authored by State Representative Thad Balkman (R-Norman).
The Senator said the measure attempts to level the playing field between the uninsured and insured when it comes to the billing practices of hospitals. Under the “Hospital Discount for Qualified Self-Pay Patients Act,” a family of four at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level will not be charged more than the insured population for their hospital care.
“One of the market failures of our current system of health care is that the uninsured, those least able to afford healthcare, are billed more.” Adelson said. “Uninsured patients are charged two or even three times higher than insured patients for the identical hospital service and that is unacceptable.”
Adelson urged the House to work quickly to pass the bill and send it to the Governor for his signature. He pointed out the bill received bi-partisan support in the Senate passing on a vote of 27-15.
“This bill provides equity for those least able to afford exorbitant charges for health care and is an important step to making healthcare system more affordable to working families in Oklahoma.” Adelson said. “Ensuring this legislation is signed into law will make a better tomorrow for our children.”