Sims Passes Two Bills Before House Committees
Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, passed two bills out of House committees on Tuesday. The House Public Safety Committee approved House Bill 3820, which creates a “whole-of-government” approach to disaster planning, mitigation, preparedness, and response across state agencies by creating the Oklahoma Interagency Resilience Coordination Council. This council led by the Office of Emergency Management will provide strategic direction to resilience efforts across the state and provide an annual report to the legislature on risk mitigation needs, progress, and priorities across Oklahoma to minimize future impact of natural disasters. The deadline for the first report is October 2025. "When I led an interim study on the Arkansas River Flood Event back in 2019, we learned Oklahoma didn’t just have a flooding problem, we have a natural disaster problem," Sims said. "Improved coordination between state agencies would help our state better prepare for, respond to and even mitigate the risk of future disasters." HB3820 passed committee unanimously and now moves to the House floor for consideration. House Bill 1522, heard in the House Insurance Committee, creates the Consumer Health Choice Empowerment Act. The measure would expand choice to healthcare consumers by requiring insurance carriers to provide the “average allowed amount” for comparable health services. Empowered with this information, the consumer or patient would then be able to shop for often more local out-of-network providers willing to charge less than the carrier’s in-network average allowed amount for the same service. Sims, who has a background in insurance, told the committee that seven other states have already implemented this program with several others introducing similar legislation to do so this year. One specific example mentioned was the state of New Hampshire who implemented the system 3 years ago and has already saved more than $11 million. "Health insurance companies have become the de facto director of care for patients by telling them where they can or can't go for services and what doctors they can or cannot see," said Sims. "House Bill 1522 in a small way puts the power back in both the patients and their physicians’ hands when it comes to personal medical decisions." HB1522 passed the House Insurance Committee 4-2 and is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.