Groundbreaking Law Approved in Oklahoma

National Right to Life Model Law Prevents Health Care Payers from Using Discriminatory Criteria

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed a groundbreaking new law preventing discriminatory denial of health care to persons with disabilities or chronic illness. The “Nondiscrimination in Health Care Coverage Act,” which is based on model legislation drafted by National Right to Life, passed the Oklahoma Senate last Friday night by a vote of 38-6 before it was sent to the governor’s desk.

Passage of the bill was a top legislative priority for National Right to Life and its affiliate, Oklahomans for Life.

“We are deeply gratified that Governor Stitt has signed into law the ‘Nondiscrimination in Health Care Coverage Act,’” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Sadly, we have seen a more open push for the rationing of health care since the coronavirus pandemic. However, rationing had already crept into our health care system. People with disabilities and the elderly continue to be the most vulnerable to the discriminatory denial of care.”

Oklahoma’s bill reads in part,

An agency shall be prohibited from developing or employing a dollars-per-quality adjusted life year, or similar measure that discounts the value of a life because of an individual’s disability, including age or chronic illness, as a threshold to establish what type of health care is cost-effective or recommended. An agency shall be prohibited from utilizing such adjusted life year, or similar measure, as a threshold to determine coverage, reimbursement, incentive programs or utilization management decisions, whether it comes from within the agency or from any third party.

The bill is referring to “Quality-Adjusted Life Year” or QALY. QALYs are an inherently discriminatory system of rationing used to assess a person’s anticipated lifespan and whether treatment will be “cost effective.” QALYs apply a score to a person’s health and penalize a person who has a disability.

QALYs are being used by some health care systems and payers to determine whether a patient who is judged – by others – to have a “diminished quality of life” should receive health care coverage.

“We greatly appreciate the dedication and commitment of Oklahoma’s pro-life legislators,” said Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans For Life and vice president of National Right to Life. “We thank Governor Stitt for his faithfulness to those who will benefit from this life-affirming, dignity-enhancing legislation.”