Communications & Public Affairs
Sept. 15, 2021

Contact: State Rep. Monroe Nichols
(405)962-7391 [email protected]

Nichols Announces Legislation to Reinstate Legislative Oversight

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, announced Tuesday the filing of legislation to restore legislative oversight for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

House Bill 2971 would repeal portions of Senate Bill 456 and implement the following rules to govern the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board:

Two board members must be consumers of the agency’s services and at least one board member must be a licensed medical practitioner.
All OHCA Board members, except the two required consumers, must have experience related to health care or managed care.
Board terms would be tied to the terms of their appointer.
The agency’s director would be chosen by the Governor from a list of three chosen by the OHCA Board.
The OHCA director must have a background in public health, health care, or managed care.
Direct oversight of the administrator would move from the Governor to the OHCA Board.

These changes were state law until the Oklahoma Legislature removed them in 2019 to allow the governor more control over the OHCA Board. Recently, Governor Stitt removed two board members, the only licensed physicians on the OHCA Board, without comment to the Legislature or public as to why. The governor’s silence has led many Oklahomans to believe the action stemmed from the two board members’ disagreement with the governor regarding the implementation of managed care.

“The Legislature gave authority to the Governor and he abused it,” Nichols said. “Now it is up to us in the Legislature to take it back. Oklahomans deserve a health care system that is removed from politics.”

Politics isn’t the only issue that bothers Democrats when it comes to board appointments.

“We have moved away from relying on seasoned experts to lead state agencies,” said Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC. “In the absence of those experts, politics has filled the void. The Legislature should be listening to subject matter experts instead of telling them how to do their job based on what is politically expedient.”

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is one of five agencies that the Legislature handed oversight authority to the governor.

“We are certainly going to be pushing for more legislative input in these areas of government,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman. “Most importantly, we are going to be fighting for expanded transparency and accountability in all areas of government.”