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Management of Oklahoma's Expanded Medicaid Program Could Turn into a Sticking Point


Administration may be the big fight over Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma.

Lawmakers leading the discussion are confident they can use a plan vetoed by Gov. Kevin Stitt as a funding fallback. It used an increased assessment on hospital revenue to come up with around $130 million, most if not all of Oklahoma’s share of around $1 billion in expansion costs.

Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan) chairs the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Health. He said during a Medicaid panel hosted by Oklahoma Policy Institute that Stitt has put management of Oklahoma’s expanded Medicaid program out for bid to third parties, companies that charge administrative fees of 10% to 15%.

"Just think about 10% of over $1 billion that we’ll be just sending out of state that we could actually use here, in state, to set up a program that we tailor ourselves," McEntire said.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) said in-state management is still part of lawmakers’ discussions.

"I wouldn’t want another profit motivator coming in to benefit from this program. We need all of those dollars, as many as we can, to go to expanding health care coverage and not to higher administrative fees," Virgin said.

A plan for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to manage the expanded Medicaid program was part of the funding bill Stitt vetoed.

Medicaid expansion will cover an estimated 200,000 Oklahomans by extending coverage to adults making up to 133% of the federal poverty level, about $17,000 or less for an individual or $35,500 for a family of four.

Stitt withdrew his own SoonerCare 2.0 proposal to expand Medicaid ahead of the June vote on State Question 802, which expanded Medicaid by amending Oklahoma's constitution.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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