OKLAHOMA CITY – As we continue to learn how the state’s revenue failure will affect Oklahoma schools, health care providers say the budget crisis will also take a toll on Oklahomans’ health.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced that it plans to slash 25 percent of the amount it reimburses to hospitals and physicians for treating patients on Medicaid, which is called SoonerCare in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers say the cuts will create a “crisis for Oklahoma seniors and threaten to completely dismantle the state’s network of nursing homes.”
The association claims that the cut would put 269 of the state’s 289 nursing home facilities in danger of closing, affecting close to 16,800 patients.
“The proposed cuts would essentially gut the profession that cares for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Tandie Hastings, OAHCP board president. “At a 25 percent cut, 93 percent of our facilities will be operating at a loss every single day. That is unsustainable and the result will be mass closure of nursing homes. When that happens, a lot of seniors and disabled individuals will be out of options for receiving care.
Health care officials say they believe there must be a way to balance the budget and not deprive Oklahoma seniors of medical care.
Oklahoma Hospital Association President Craig Jones said the cuts will also result in serious operating problems for both smaller rural and larger urban hospitals, many of which already are struggling.
Jones said the cuts also will lead to physicians no longer treating Medicaid patients.
“At a time when our state economy is already struggling, we are now talking about a sucker punch for rural Oklahoma and the working class families that make up the backbone of this profession,” said Hastings.