OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma lawmaker is calling out Gov. Mary Fallin, blaming her for recent Medicaid provider cuts.
On Friday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority voted to reduce reimbursement rates for its providers. The board passed a 6% reduction for medical care and 1% for nursing facilities Friday.
Carrie Evans, chief financial officer for OHCA, says the rate reductions are due to the revenue the Oklahoma Health Care Authority lost from the cigarette tax being ruled unconstitutional and not being fully funded during the Legislative Special Session. The fee was expected to generate $70 million; however, they were just allocated $23 million from the special session.
The vote came exactly two weeks after Gov. Mary Fallin line-item vetoed the only budget that was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate during two months of the special session.
House Bill 1019X included $60 million worth of cuts across various state agencies while also using $23 million in Rainy Day funds, $23 million in carryover cash from last year, and $60 million through revolving money to bridge the $215 million gap. The overall plan also included a recently passed measure to raise the gross production tax on legacy wells.
There would have also been cuts to the three agencies that would have received $215 million from the cigarette fee, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Those agencies include the Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
After the bill reached the governor's desk, she vetoed it and told lawmakers that she would call a second special session.
Now, an Oklahoma lawmaker is calling out Gov. Fallin for that veto.
House Speaker Charles McCall released a statement on Monday, saying that provider rate cuts by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority would have been avoided if Fallin had just signed the budget bill.
"The bill the governor vetoed would have stabilized the Health Care Authority's budget until a more sustainable solution could be reached during the upcoming legislative session or a later special session. The plan wasn't perfect, but it provided funding for those health agencies and programs most affected by the loss of revenue from the cigarette fee. We understand the affect that provider cuts have on access to care, particularly in rural areas of the state. If the governor had signed the budget agreement, those cuts to provider rates and any potential cuts to other healthcare services in the coming months would have been avoided," McCall said.
Fallin later issued a response in a statement, saying:
“The budget bill that I vetoed was a short-time fix to a long-term problem. When we return to regular session next year to begin work on the 2019 fiscal year budget, we will be facing a budget gap of as much as $600 million and the reality that provider rates would be cut again. I believe we missed an opportunity to address our long-term structural budget problems in special session by continuing to kick the can down the road and failing to develop a predictable solution to fix our budget and fund our core services. We didn’t get our job done. Unfortunately, it took my veto pen to bring the proper focus and attention to this matter. I am committed to addressing the health care needs of Oklahoma as I always have, and I look forward to working further with legislators to find solutions.”