A state lawmaker who vowed to fight Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to let for-profit companies manage Oklahoma’s expanding Medicaid program took action on Wednesday.
Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan) amended Senate Bill 131, which dealt with dialysis, to instead require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to oversee services to thousands of newly eligible enrollees starting July 1.
OHCA is currently moving ahead with $2 billion in contracts with four private companies to do that. McEntire said if his bill becomes law, he believes those contracts would be dissolved, but that may not be the end of it.
"There’s a lot of money at stake in this deal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a lawsuit. But that should never be our fear. Are we going to do what we believe is right or just act in a certain way because we’re scared of what might happen?" McEntire said.
McEntire said he wants the state to have the federal funds from expanding Medicaid, not private companies, and reminded colleagues how much easier more than $2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds made budgeting last year.
"Look at that, what that did for our economy, and imagine having that money every year – every year matriculating through our health care system and our economy. The economic impact is huge," McEntire said.
In a statement, Stitt called McEntire's bill "irresponsible" and reiterated his commitment to a managed care model, which has been dubbed SoonerSelect.
"Oklahomans do not want to follow Joe Biden's playbook and continue to grow a single-payer, government health care program that has led to Oklahoma ranking 49th in health outcomes," Stitt said.
McEntire said he promised he’ll help make managed care a success if his bill fails.
"But I’m going to fight while I can still fight, and when I can’t fight anymore, I’m going to put my hands down and join the team," McEntire said.
McEntire faces an uphill battle with the bill. It must pass the full House and Senate to get to Stitt, who would almost certainly veto it. So, McEntire would need votes to override a veto — in this case, three-fourths majorities.