Oklahoma Health Care Authority Delays And Reduces Planned Cuts

Friday, November 24th 2017, 4:07 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has announced it will delay planned cuts to providers and nursing homes, and those cuts will be smaller than initially expected. The budget crisis has already left its mark, however.

This is just the latest round of cuts for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which operates SoonerCare. A nearly $23 million last-minute appropriation is lessening the blow, but it will be too little, too late for some facilities.

When the Health Care Authority announced plans to cut reimbursement rates 9-percent for providers and 4-percent for nursing homes earlier this month, the Wynnewood Care Center immediately announced it could take no more and would close its doors.

“Over the last few years,” Wynnewood Care Center administrator Marilyn Yeakley told News 9, "none of the reimbursement for our Medicaid residents, which are 99 percent of our residents, have increased. It’s either stayed stagnant or we’ve had a cut in our provider reimbursement."

The Heath Care Authority was banking on the proposed smoking fee to pass the legislature, but when it was ruled unconstitutional, leaders in the agency say they had to make a tough call. Now, instead of the 9-percent cut to SoonerCare providers and 4-percent cut to nursing homes scheduled to start Dec. 1, providers will see a 6-percent cut to reimbursement rates and nursing homes will only have a 1-percent cut, starting Jan. 1.

In a statement, OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard said:

The OHCA continues to work diligently to protect providers from rate reductions. Reducing and delaying the rate reductions is part of that commitment. However, while these funds have provided an immediate relief, even with the Jan. 1 rate reductions, we are still approximately $9.5 million short of a balanced budget. We will continue to work with leadership to try to find funding solutions that will fully fund the agency and possibly allow us to reverse these reductions. 

The Health Care Authority is holding a special board meeting on Dec. 1 to finalize this new plan.