City Chamber opposes levy on health care claim payments
Share this Article: Twitter Facebook Republish Print
YouTube Video

Published: 25-May-2010

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 25-May-2010

Legislation placing a new fee on health insurance claims – a measure opponents have decried as a tax increase – has passed the Legislature and is at the desk of Governor Brad Henry, his signature on the measure is a certainty.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Monday announced its opposition to House Bill 2437, the proposed new state levy on health care claim payments. A chamber release said the bill only puts “a new tax burden on Oklahoma City businesses, but would ultimately increase health care costs and encourage a decrease in benefits.”

David Thompson, publisher of The Oklahoman and chairman of the chamber board, criticized the new levy: “We realize there is a budget deficit, and we appreciate the efforts being made to fix this problem. However, introducing a bill that has not been thoroughly discussed or analyzed is not the way to go about fixing the issue. Our job at the Chamber is to protect the best interests of the business community, and we believe there are far better ways to solve the budget deficit.”

H.B. 2437 creates a one percent fee on all health care claims paid by health carriers. “Health carriers” in the bill include private insurance companies, third party administrators and self-insured companies. The Chamber’s priority issues for 2010 include opposing new health insurance mandates and increased liability that would undermine an employer’s ability to provide quality health insurance at a reasonable cost to employees.

“We were shocked to learn about this new bill, because it penalizes Oklahoma companies that are trying to provide quality health care services to their employees,” said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.  “This bill would place an enormous burden not only on health insurance companies, but also on self-insured companies. We have made real progress in addressing our budget issues, but HB 2437 is the wrong solution. This would be a huge step backwards.”

The new levy, whether ultimately defined as a tax or a fee, is expected to raise $78 million in state money which will be matched with perhaps $190 million in federal funds in the coming fiscal year (2011), which begins July 1. It was part of a “revenue enhancement” package included in the budget accord announced last Thursday by Governor Henry, a Democrat, and Republican legislative leaders: Speaker Chris Benge of Tulsa for the House, and President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee of Oklahoma City for the Senate.

Complicating the fiscal picture is that the health insurance levy cleared the Legislature without the emergency clause included. This means it will become law three months after the Legislature adjourns, rather than immediately after the governor’s signature (with an effective date for revenue collection of July 1).

NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report. 

sign up for email updates

Steal Our Stuff