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Oklahoma Lawmakers Drop Attempt To Block Stitt's Plan To Outsource Medicaid Program

KWGS News

Lawmakers have chosen to set in state statute guardrails for Oklahoma’s Medicaid managed care program rather than block Gov. Kevin Stitt’s privatization plan.

The Senate and House signed off on a final version of Senate Bill 131 late last week. It puts contract provisions with the four participating insurers into state law, gives the legislature opportunities to pump the brakes on expanding managed care and preserves reimbursement rates for providers that opt out of performance-based pay models.

Senate Health and Human Services Chair Greg McCortney (R-Ada) said he thinks managed care will improve health outcomes, but it’s good to have some oversight of billions of state dollars.

"Managed care is not this horrible, evil, awful thing, but it is this really big thing that in many instances has been done poorly. And we hear about all of the bad things," McCortney said on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David (R-Porter,) who has consistently defended managed care, voted against the bill.

"This is the best of the worst that you guys have given me this year when it comes to this. I just – I don’t see where we’re protecting the taxpayer. There’s no guardrails in here for fraud, waste and abuse, but we have plenty of guardrails in here to make sure that we pay those providers," David said.

Last month, the House passed a version of SB131 that would have required the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to keep Medicaid entirely in-house. That would have cost an estimated $260 million a year. The state awarded up to $2 billion in contracts for managed care.

Stitt has yet to take action on SB131, but it passed the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities.

Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma takes effect July 1. Managed care, dubbed SoonerSelect, is set to kick in Oct. 1.

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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