Oklahoma Senate bill exempting potential candidates for state health commissioner from advances on existing requirements

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A bill to “broaden” the requirements of a potential candidate for state health commissioner passed the Senate on Monday (March 14).

Senate Bill 709written by Sen. Paul Rosino, R-District 45, would exempt potential applicants from the current requirements if the applicant has at least a master’s degree and has management experience with state agencies or major projects.

“I want to be clear, these changes do not eliminate any existing qualifications, but rather expand their requirements to allow more flexibility in who leads the State Department of Health,” Sen. Rosino said as SB709 was heard in the Senate.

Current Oklahoma state law requires the state health commissioner to meet at least one of the following qualifications:

1. Possession of an MD and license to practice medicine in that state;

2. Possession of a degree in osteopathic medicine and a license to practice medicine in that state;

3. Possession of a doctorate in public health or public health administration; Where

4. Possess a Master of Science degree and a minimum of five (5) years of supervisory experience in health services administration.

Senator Rosino said SB709 would allow Oklahoma to act similarly to state and national hospitals, where they allow directors or CEOs who are not doctors to have leadership roles.

However, SB709 received some criticism in the Senate.

“I am very concerned about this change,” said Sen. Carri Hicks, D-District 40. “I understand that it expands the pool of candidates for this particular nomination, but since we are still involved in a major health crisis that shook the state in many ways, not just the state, but the nation and the world. I think it is very concerning that we are potentially considering a candidate to lead our public health agency who has no health care related training or experience. So I have to say ‘no’ to this change today and hope you all consider the ramifications of this particular vote.

“I understand that we have a labor shortage in the state in many areas, in many different fields, and I know that existed before the pandemic, and the pandemic has not done anything in our system. of health except exasperating this problem, but I also know that one thing that the pandemic showed us was the need to have qualified and experienced health professionals who give us information and data so that we know what to do with it said Sen. Kay Floyd, D-District 46. “Lowering the requirements, education and experience requirements of one of the highest permanent commissioners in the state is unwise at this time. .

Despite this concern, SB709 passed in the Senate by a vote of 31 to 15. It will now be sent back to the House for further consideration.

Norman D. Briggs