State cuts Medicaid rates for medical equipment amid COVID-19 pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On March 30, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority approved rate cuts to medical equipment that could affect rural residents on Soonercare as well as medical equipment providers during this coronavirus crisis and beyond.

The state of Oklahoma is tied for second among states with the highest rate of uninsured people.

Gov. Stitt has applied to the federal government to expand Soonercare.

However, he has also applied for a federal waiver that would restrict it, using barriers such as requirements, premiums and co-pays.

The state, confirming the plans to move forward with the cuts.

The Oklahoma Medical Equipment Providers Association sent the state a letter when the cuts were voted on.

The letter specifies different medical equipment and the states suggested rates.

Some of them are cut by up to 49 percent.

This includes things like wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines.

For example, a person on Soonercare would pay a $4 copay for a wheelchair. The medical equipment company provides it. That company is eventually reimbursed by the state for providing it. On July 1, 2020, however, that reimbursement rate will drop 48 percent to just $22. That will be the take-home money for the equipment company.

At that rate, medical equipment providers stating in their letter that they, “will not be able to continue providing services of the Oklahoma Medicaid program.”

One of them is Victor Clay, president of Complete Care Medical in Idabel and Hugo.

“It limits me the financial ability to take care of these patients in their home,” Clay said.

Clay and his team deliver and fix in-home medical equipment to rural areas. That keeps the patients at home.

“As opposed to going into the hospital for hospital stays that ties up those beds that could be used for the COVID-19 patients,” Clay said.

According to Clay his employees take care of thousands of people between his two locations. Hundreds of which this will affect.

“I’ve got to keep a staff that is capable of handling the needs of my southeast Oklahoma rural community,” he said.

The state, claiming otherwise, releasing this statement:

“The health and safety of SoonerCare members is a top priority for OHCA. The changes to Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies were necessary to comply with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services federal regulations. The rate changes went through a robust public comment process before they were approved by the OHCA board. OHCA will continue to provide assistance to SoonerCare members to ensure access to medical supplies and equipment.”

“We are just begging the OK Health Care Authority to reverse the decision,” Clay said.

Clay also said some worry lingers about his employees to. After this goes into effect, Clay said he is looking at having to cut at least two of his 20 employees, a ten percent drop, with what he says are fears of more to come.

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