Health Care Policy

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has not touched $164 million lawmakers appropriated to pay for the state’s 10% share of the program’s costs.

OHCA CEO Kevin Corbett told lawmakers this week federal virus relief funds and savings from shifting thousands of people from fully state-funded coverage to the expanded Medicaid program are enough to cover costs right now. Around 65,000 people with health coverage through entirely state-funded programs qualified for insurance under Medicaid expansion.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — More than 150,000 Oklahomans have qualified for Medicaid under an expansion of the program approved by voters, and state health officials say they suspect many more Oklahomans are eligible but haven’t yet applied.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority reported Monday that 154,316 Oklahomans have qualified for the additional health benefits. Of those, nearly 91,000 live in urban areas and about 63,000 in rural Oklahoma. About half are between 19 and 34 years old.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A special guest visited Oklahomans celebrating Medicaid expansion taking effect Thursday.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra spoke briefly at Friendship Church in north Tulsa. Becerra praised advocates and health officials on hand for their work to get voters to approve expansion last year through a ballot measure.

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.

KWGS News file photo

An executive at Oklahoma’s largest health care system told Oklahoma lawmakers he’s wary of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s current plan to privatize the state’s Medicaid program.

Oklahoma Chooses Vendors For $2B Partial Privatization Of Medicaid

Jan 29, 2021

State officials announced the winners of up to $2.1 billion in health care contracts on Friday, a major milestone in implementing Oklahoma’s hotly debated privatized Medicaid program.

Four private health insurance companies will handle much of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program starting in October: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma; Humana Healthy Horizons; Oklahoma Complete Health, which is a subsidiary of managed care giant Centene; and United Healthcare.

Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Watch

Governor Kevin Stitt’s plan to outsource management of Oklahoma’s expanded Medicaid program to a for-profit company cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board approved on Tuesday spending up to $2.1 billion on contracts next fiscal year with managed care organizations, or MCOs. The 6–3 vote came after public comment from representatives from a handful of health organizations, all of them opposed.

On this edition of ST, we're talking about State Question 802, the Medicaid expansion initiative that Oklahoma voters will cast ballots for or against on Tuesday of next week. This measure, per ballotpedia.org, would "expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. It would provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults between 18 and 65 with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

On this edition of ST, we get to know Ahniwake Rose, the incoming executive director of the nonprofit, non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute (a/k/a OK Policy). Rose, originally from Oklahoma, has spent nearly 20 years working at the intersection of public policy and nonprofit management. Previously, she was the Deputy Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), a national organization serving the interests of tribal governments and communities.

Our guest on ST Medical Monday is Lori Melichar, a labor economist with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Per the RWJF website, Lori is "a senior director [who] focuses on discovering, exploring, and learning from cutting-edge ideas with the potential to help create a Culture of Health. She is also the host of the Foundation's Pioneering Ideas podcast.