OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Medical Association plans to file a motion asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to issue an injunction to halt Gov. Kevin Stitt’s effort to privatize the state’s Medicaid program.
OSMA will file the motion next week, a move that the OSMA Board of Directors supported with a unanimous vote, according to an OSMA news release.
“While we certainly have strong feelings about outsourcing the state Medicaid program to for-profit companies, this is about process,” said Pete Aran, M.D., chair of the OSMA board of directors. “The fact remains that Oklahoma’s legislature has not passed the appropriate legislation or funding to move managed care forward. We believe it is premature to move ahead with these contracts until the legislative process is completed.”
Stitt announced his plan to revamp the state’s Medicaid program on Jan. 29. His plan is a managed care program that will be known as SoonerSelect.
Selected managed care organizations (MCOs) include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Complete Health, Humana Health Horizons and UnitedHealthcare – each established in the state and serving Oklahomans. Stitt’s office estimates 1,500 new jobs will be created.
Stitt said the new program will improve health care outcomes for Oklahomans.
Kevin Corbett, Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO, said the contracts will begin when they start the program, which they’re hoping will be on Oct. 1, 2021.
A large chorus of medical officials and lawmakers denounced Stitt’s Medicaid managed care plan.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma Osteopathic Association and American Academy of Pediatrics—Oklahoma Chapter issued a joint statement directed at the governor on Jan. 29, saying in part, “It is unfortunate that, rather than working with stakeholders and legislators on his managed care scheme, this administration has chosen to push through an ill-conceived plan that will have serious implications for our state’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations.”
Nine state senators sent a letter to Stitt, asking him to rethink his plan to enter into a managed care contracts. Sen. Rob Standridge was among them.
“It’s one of the worst ideas both in healthcare and financially that I could ever imagine the state making. It’ll be a multibillion dollar mistake and it will harm patients as a result,” Standridge said.
The Oklahoma Dental Association came out against the plan on Thursday.
“Managed care, farming out the health care decisions of our most vulnerable citizens, to an out-of-state, for-profit insurance company is absolutely not the answer,” Lynn Means, executive director of the Oklahoma Dental Association, said. “This is an extremely expensive change to the way our state delivers healthcare. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, it’s a dangerous time to make such a colossal change.”
Means said an attempt at managed Medicaid failed in the 1990s.
“We tried this in the 90s, and it was a complete failure. We had about a thousand providers of Medicaid, dental providers across the state and when they moved to managed care, over the years…we were down to less than 100 providers in the entire state,” Means said.
OSMA strongly opposes outsourcing Medicaid to private vendors, but the organization’s pursuit of an injunction against Stitt’s plan “is solely about the process and the need to be good stewards of state dollars,” according to the news release.
“Every state taxpayer should be concerned,” said George Monks, M.D., president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. “Do we want to allow unelected agency boards and commissions to potentially put the state on the hook for billions of dollars in future spending without discussion and approval by the legislators who must ultimately approve the funding? We are simply asking the Court to put the process on hold until the legislature can decide if this is a proper path forward.”
Woody Jenkins, M.D., co-chair of the OSMA Rural Section, said Stitt’s plan will disproportionally impact rural patients.
“We all want state agencies to run more efficiently, but to date, we’ve yet to hear a good explanation removing billions of dollars from the Health Care Authority and sending it to largely out-of-state private companies can achieve this goal. Additionally, while the OHCA runs at less than 5 percent administrative overhead, managed care companies in other states demand 15 percent or more administrative costs. We just want a chance to have this discussion with our state legislators before committing to this risky scheme,” Jenkins said.