Children facing mental and behavioral health issues would have access to increased and improved services under a $39.4 million appropriation to OU Children’s Hospital under consideration during next week’s special legislative session. If approved by the Legislature, the money would go towards building long-term in patient bed capacity for children in mental health crisis. This is in addition to $27.3 million in appropriations the Legislature has made to OU during the past two regular sessions for the project at Children’s Hospital.
The bill, HB1007, is one of a number of bills that will be under consideration during next week’s special session. In addition to providing the appropriation, language in the bill would limit the University Hospital Authority Trust from receiving funds if any affiliated facilities at the OU Medical Center campus perform ‘gender reassignment medical treatment.’
Rep. Randy Randleman, REufaula, who is certified as a teacher, counselor, principal, psychometrist, superintendent and licensed psychologist, said the legislation not only provides funding to address an immediate need, but contains necessary guardrails to protect children as a prerequisite to receiving the funding.
‘Funding for childhood mental and behavioral health issues is a critical need not only in Oklahoma, but across the country,’ said Randleman. ‘At the same time, some of the ways these issues are being addressed do more harm than good for the child in the long run. Unproven, controversial, unchangeable hormonal procedures, including gender reassignment, at a young age can do irreparable physical, mental and emotional damage to a child. Taxpayer dollars should not be going to facilities that are promoting and performing these procedures. This legislation provides the guardrails necessary to make sure that funding goes where it is supposed to go, and not towards procedures that will hurt our children rather than help them.’
For purposes of the legislation, the term ‘gender reassignment medical treatment’ means any health care to facilitate the transitioning of a patient’s assigned gender identity on the patient’s birth certificate, to the gender identity experienced and defined by the patient.
Randleman went on to say that the term ‘gender reassignment medical treatment’ would not apply to medically necessary procedures for individuals born with ambiguous genitalia, incomplete genitalia or both male and female anatomy. It also would not apply to services provided to individuals born with a genetically or biochemically verifiable disorder of sex development (DSD).
‘Individuals needing medically necessary treatment due to an anatomical or genetic issue will still be able to get that treatment,’ said Randleman. ‘This bill is simply meant to limit the support, through appropriated ARPA dollars, of facilities providing elective gender reassignment procedures for children.’
The Legislature reconvenes the Second Extraordinary Session of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature Sept. 28-30.