Bill Placing ‘Guardrails’ On Medicaid Program Passes State Senate


Wednesday, May 19th 2021, 5:43 pm
By: Storme Jones


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Despite clearing the state House of Representatives with an overwhelming margin in April, a bill that would have upended Gov. Kevin Stitt's Medicaid overhaul stalled in the Senate. 

Instead, lawmakers compromised, substituting language they said places guardrails on the privatization of Medicaid program. 

“I’ve come to believe that a good policy is policy where everyone is angry, and right now we have very good policy, I believe,” Senate Health and Human Services Chairman Greg McCortney, R-Ada, said. 

Earlier this year, Stitt’s administration unilaterally announced the state would outsource it's Medicaid program to four private companies. The plan faced bipartisan criticism for not having lawmaker input. 

Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, led the charge in the House to reverse the governor’s privatization plan. He said the new version of SB 131 is better than nothing. 

“I personally just don’t want to see Oklahoma tax dollars going to enrich huge companies,” he said. “I’d rather use that money to invest in the healthcare systems in the state.” 

The bill’s authors said it at least put the ground rules for privatized Medicaid into state law. 

“We’re going to make sure that the doctors are paid a fair rate and also that care is not denied without having an appropriate way to appeal those denials,” McCortney said. 

“It does deal with time limits on prior authorization, so people don’t have to wait to get care prior authorization on hospitalization,” McEntire said. 

With the state on track to expand Medicaid July 1, the governor's plan is set to take effect three months later in October. 

Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill with a veto proof majority 39-8. 

“If the governor vetoes the bill, I very much expect the legislature to take up an override on the veto,” McCortney said. 

The governor’s office did not comment on the bill.