Representative Jeff Boatman

Hi, I'm Jeff Boatman and I represent the people of Oklahoma's 67th District.


News & Announcements

Nov 10, 2023
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Mental Health Caucus Hosts Workforce Interim Study

OKLAHOMA CITY – Chairs of the Oklahoma Legislative Mental Health Caucus—Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, Rep. Melissa Provenzano , D-Tulsa, Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan—hosted a joint interim study on Tuesday before the House Public Health Committee about the most pressing challenges facing Oklahoma’s behavioral health workforce. “Oklahoma faces critical shortages of nearly every type of behavioral health clinician,” said Boatman. “The Legislature has made investments in behavioral health workforce development, including the passage of House Bill 2036 earlier this year to create a pilot incentive program through the OSU Medical Authority. However, more needs to be done, and I encourage my colleagues in both chambers to seriously consider additional investments during the next legislative session.” During the interim study, Tequia Sier, project director for behavioral health workforce at Healthy Minds Policy Initiative, noted that Oklahoma’s psychiatrist workforce is 22% smaller than the per-capita national average. Sier mentioned the state's psychologist workforce is less than half as robust as the rest of the nation and Oklahoma also meets less than 29% of the estimated need for psychiatric advanced practice nurses. "This study provided a poignant look at the gap between the size of our mental health workforce and the need by Oklahomans, in particular psychologists and psychiatrists,” said Provenzano. “The limited number of university internships and residency opportunities in Oklahoma means our future doctors must overwhelmingly move out of state to complete their training. When they go, they tend not to return. It’s time for Oklahoma to grow our capacity and retain these doctors here at home.” Sier said the state’s degree programs supporting behavioral health careers are graduating more students than ever, but not enough to meet the state’s growing need for treatment services after workforce attrition. In-state training opportunities are particularly limited for the most-needed, most highly trained behavioral health professions — psychiatry and psychology. “The challenges facing Oklahoma’s behavioral health workforce are especially acute in our rural communities,” said Garvin. “We need to grow this workforce in ways that help Oklahomans better access services and find quality care for themselves and their families.” “Despite the dire urgency, this study was hopeful,” said Kirt. “It showed us that we do not have to accept long waits for care or underprepared professionals. We have a clear roadmap for improving Oklahoma’s behavioral health workforce through boosts in investment.” Recommendations for strategies to address the state’s key challenges and opportunities included incentivizing students into expedient training pathways, expanding training that fuels in-state retention of critically needed clinicians, enhancing educational programs tailored to treatment system needs and providing upskilling opportunities for paraprofessionals. “Policymakers have practical and realistic options for addressing the state's most pressing behavioral health workforce challenges,” said Healthy Minds Executive Director Zack Stoycoff. “With roughly $30 million in targeted funding and policy initiatives, Oklahoma can significantly strengthen workforce pipelines to meet the state’s growing need for behavioral health professionals.” Other speakers at the interim study included Dr. Melissa Craft, associate dean for clinical affairs at University of Oklahoma College of Nursing; Dr. Julie Miller-Cribbs, director of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at University of Oklahoma ; Dr. Sara Coffey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences; Jim Serratt, of Parkside Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic; and Josh Cantwell, COO of GRAND Mental Health.

Nov 3, 2023
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Bill Covering Exam, Medication Costs for Survivors of Sexual Assault Now in Effect

Legislation increasing the amount that can be disbursed from the Sexual Assault Examination Fund for certain fees and medical costs following a sexual assault took effect Wednesday. House Bill 2236 better assists survivors of sexual assault with the costs related to medical care. It increases the amount that can be reimbursed for sexual assault examination fees from $450 to $800 and increases the monetary cap for medications related to the sexual assault from $50 to $100 per case. "The previous reimbursement cap is simply no longer sufficient to adequately cover today's cost of the examination and medication," said Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, who authored the bill. "I hope this increased cap allows our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners the peace of mind to focus fully on their patient and gather the critical evidence needed for prosecution of the perpetrator, rather than worrying about fitting costs into the statutorily allowed limits. I'm thankful for the unanimous support of this important bill, as well as the assistance we received from the District Attorneys Council, who were instrumental in making this legislation possible." HB2236 was authored in the Senate by Minority Leader Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. The bill also establishes the position of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Statewide Coordinator under the District Attorneys Council (DAC), which Boatman said is critical to ensuring SANE care is available to victims across our state while optimizing the use of resource to manage costs. "The need for SANE nurses statewide is essential for providing quality care and assistance for sexual assault survivors," said Floyd. "By establishing a coordinator position, logistical issues such as training, recruitment and resources for SANE nurses can be prioritized and scaled to provide greater coverage and accessibility to survivors throughout our state." The measure, which passed both chambers unanimously, took effect on Nov. 1. 

Oct 31, 2023
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Boatman Hosts Study on Food Insecurity

The Oklahoma House of Representatives Children, Youth and Family Services Committee heard an interim study last week on food insecurity and assistance access across the state. The study was organized by Rep. Jeff Boatman of Tulsa, who requested the study following the Legislature's consideration of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. He realized how many Oklahomans struggle to access healthy food and told the committee that when children have limited meals throughout the weekend, they have difficulty focusing in school on Monday mornings.  Attendees heard first from J. Chris Bernard, president and CEO of Hunger Free Oklahoma. "Food insecurity, generally, and resource scarcity add stress to a household," Bernard said. "If you actually look at what scarcity does to the brain, it takes away your ability to think long-term. You have to focus right here."  B.K. Bruner spoke about his lived experience struggling with food insecurity when he suddenly found himself responsible for caring for his siblings.  "I knew about paying bills because growing up I worked and I helped pay the mortgage and helped my mom pay the bills. I did not know about what to do about getting food," Bruner said. "My brother and sister and I were just out of luck. The red tape that existed in front of us simply was insurmountable for an 18-year-old kid." Bruner told attendees he had difficulty receiving food through many programs because he was not the legal guardian of his siblings and could not afford an attorney to guide him through the legal process. Instead, he and his three-year-old sister walked about three miles to a nearby food assistance charity to receive food donations.  "These programs that we've heard about here today actually impact people's lives, actually impact people's ability to be productive, to be able to add to our economy instead of a drain on our economy," Bruner said. Dave Wattenbarger, community connections manager for Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, spoke on struggles unique to rural Oklahoma and said the most common struggles are with money, manpower and resources.  Some rural food pantries are primarily staffed by elderly people who may not be able to drive at night, limiting the hours a pantry may be accessible to people living far away.  "Moving forward, anything that we can do to begin to look at these money, manpower, and resources, whether that means some type of incentive, but we could desperately use that help big time," Wattenbarger said.  Scooter Vaughan, director of rural initiatives for Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, said that a one-size-fits-all solution is difficult to implement successfully because of the varied challenges people must face to accessing a nearby food bank.  "I am very grateful to the speakers who took the time out of their day to visit with us and share their expertise," Boatman said. "Food insecurity is a serious concern that affects the wellbeing and livelihoods of thousands of Oklahomans, and we need to reexamine how we address these issues in Oklahoma so we are best leveraging the public and private resources we have available."