Several state medical associations are expressing concern after the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in charge of Medicaid services voted Monday in favor of hiring private companies to facilitate care.
The last time Oklahoma used a similar model for the state Medicaid service, also called SoonerCare was in the 1990s and 2000s.
Lynn Means, the executive director of the Oklahoma Dental Association said using private companies stopped medical providers from providing services.
“It was a complete failure,” Means said. “We dropped over 90% of the dental Medicaid providers in the state of Oklahoma.”
“Things have changed a lot in the last 20 years,” said Kevin Corbett, the CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. He said the change will help better Oklahoma’s low-ranked service.
“Forty-sixth in the country is not something to desire or admire. I think we have an opportunity to do something about that,” he said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has been a proponent for the addition of private companies to the state’s Medicaid service, which is called a managed care organization, or MCO.
“Our state is stuck near the bottom of the list in almost every major health outcome. Oklahomans hired me to bring a fresh set of eyes to all areas of state government, and as governor, I can’t stand by and continue with business as usual when the system isn’t working,” Stitt said in a statement.
The state medical and hospital associations both said in statements they are “disappointed” with the OHCA’s decision, which they said could result in fewer services for the more than 900,000 Oklahomans enrolled in SoonerCare.
“Privatizing our state’s Medicaid system will lead to reduced access for our most vulnerable Oklahomans and will only cost the state and taxpayers more,” the Oklahoma Hospital Association said in a statement.
“We truly believe that outsourcing Medicaid to an out-of-state, for-profit company is not in the best interests of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens who rely on these health services,” said Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
“Moreover, we do not think it is appropriate for a state agency to commit to billions of dollars’ worth of future spending without the input of the Legislature, which will ultimately be responsible for appropriating these funds,” he said.