A harmful bill that would increase health care costs by millions for Oklahoma’s families, businesses and patients has moved forward in our state Legislature. Senate Bill 1860 would undermine the quality of care patients can access and raise costs, while doing nothing to address the outrageously high drug prices established by big drug companies.
Unfortunately, Oklahomans have seen the state Legislature consider bills that would increase their health care costs year over year. In 2021, the Legislature actually passed SB 821 — with many of the same provisions as SB 1860 — which was vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in order to protect Oklahoma families from big drug companies’ price hikes.
SB 1860 would make it harder for employers to offer high-quality affordable health benefits to their employees. What would this look like for Oklahomans? Higher out-of-pocket costs on prescriptions, more expensive premiums and higher deductibles. This is a burden Oklahoma families simply cannot afford, especially as we continue to navigate the economic and public health fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SB 1860 also prohibits businesses from offering access to certain lower-cost pharmacies and services, leaving Oklahomans with fewer choices. This is an affront to our values as a community — individuals deserve the right to select and receive care at a price point they can afford, without government mandates getting in the way. Especially for those with critical or chronic conditions and diseases, like cancer, this bill can have serious and potentially dangerous implications.
Moreover, this bill empowers the government to interfere with our health care decisions, and to make decisions that are ultimately not in our best interest. Oklahoma lawmakers should be protecting, not attacking, our ability to make independent health care choices.
Put simply, SB 1860 is detrimental to hardworking Oklahoma families. Meanwhile, it empowers big drug companies to continue to set steep prices on life-saving medications. Our families, businesses and patients deserve better.
Oklahomans tired of making special interests rich while their families overpay for prescription drugs should call on lawmakers to put a stop to SB 1860.
Ericka McPherson is the executive director of Oklahoma Families for Affordable Health Care (OKFAHC).