Oklahoma Medical Centers At Risk Of Losing $650M In Federal Funds

Monday, April 10th 2017, 5:16 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The State's only level one trauma center at OU Medical Center and the hospital's NICU unit is in jeopardy of closing.

That could be just some of the consequences if the state continues to move forward with privatizing part of their Medicaid system.

Officials at OU say hospitals across the state could lose about $650 million in federal funding.

OU Medical’s trauma center has to have doctors, surgeons, and specialists around the clock. To help pay for that they get supplemental federal funding. That's money the federal government kicks in to make up for what state Medicaid doesn't.

Dr. Roxie Albrecht, who runs the trauma center, says that funding is essential to their survival and ultimately those they help.

“If we were to lose this, we would lose a significant number of lives in the state,” Albrecht told News 9.

The same is true for the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. But medical officials at OU and across the state believe they could lose that federal supplemental funding if the state moves forward with privatizing the state's care of seniors and individuals with disabilities.

“We wouldn’t be able to have around the clock access, wouldn’t be able to have the comprehensive specialists,” said Dr. Jason Sanders, the Provost of OU Health Sciences Center.

That's why OU and medical professionals and organizations across the state are asking the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority to stop moving forward, at least temporarily.

“There’s maybe an unintended consequence of moving too fast without understanding what we can lose,” says Nico Gomez.

Gomez was heading up the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority until a couple months ago.  He says the legislature passed a law asking the Healthcare Authority to move the care to private insurance companies.

“What happened in 2015 kind of started us off in that journey and in the middle of that journey the rules changed,” said Gomez.

Gomez now represents nursing homes across the state who he says could miss out on an additional $250 to $300 million in possible funding.