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Gov. Stitt Removes Only Doctors On Health Care Authority Board

File Photo / Matt Trotter

Gov. Kevin Stitt has removed the only two doctors on the state board that oversees the agency administering the state's Medicaid program. 


Dr. Jean Hausheer and Dr. Laura Shamblin were dismissed from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s board by the governor over the weekend. 


Hausheer said she wasn’t given a reason for her dismissal but said it probably has to do with the board’s meeting that took place on Aug. 26. Emergency rules for the implementation of Senate Bill 131, a bill that has to do with the privatization of Medicaid and that specifically references contracts with private insurance companies, were on the table. 


Hausheer said while she initially supported the implementation she couldn’t anymore in light of the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling in June that privatization was illegal.


Hausheer had discussions with lawmakers involved in the creation of SB 131, Sen. Greg McCortney and Rep. Marcus McEntire. She contacted both before voting on the rules.


“At the time they made 131 come to life, the Supreme Court ruling had not yet occurred. Their absolute opinion was that 131 was completely dead in the water because of the Supreme Court ruling.”


The final vote for tabling the rules on Aug. 26 was 7-1 with the majority of the board in support of tabling.


Hausheer said she encouraged the other members of the board to table the rules.


“They all voted the way I recommended. We did the right thing at the end of the day. The rules seem in my mind to be twisted or perhaps misunderstood by the agency.”


The OHCA administrative rules committee is set to meet again Thursday. Hausheer was scheduled to chair that meeting but now she doesn’t know what will be discussed.


In June’s Supreme Court ruling, one reason given for the decision was that OHCA acted without legislative authority and without first adopting administrative rules.


Gov. Stitt’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the removal of Hausheer and Shamblin, or why they might be removed for failing to approve the implementation of rules that could be considered illegal.


Hausheer said after many consultations with the governor over managed care, she was dismissed summarily with a staffer calling her in lieu of the governor. 


“It would be intelligent for a governor to listen to multiple opinions about things. It is odd because September is the month where we honor women physicians in medicine and we got canned that very month. I don’t know why. I would say we each were very thoughtful. We cared, we studied, we did our homework.”


Hausheer said she asked who might replace her but wasn’t given an answer.


“It would be remiss to have no physicians or a paucity of physicians represented. Much of what we do is we deal with the most vulnerable here in Oklahoma. I hope he replaces us with physicians who are not just rubber stamp people that will do whatever he says."


The right way forward, Hausheer said, is not the path the governor seems to be pursuing.


“What the governor needs to do is to stop trying to run managed care organization rules through the OHCA rules committee. Instead he should meet with leadership from the Legislature, the OHCA, and various healthcare leadership to collaboratively come to an agreement on this important topic. He will fail if he continues forward in the way he is currently proceeding.”