NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – It might surprise you that around one million Oklahomans, or 25 percent of the population, qualify for health coverage under expanded Medicaid.

Thursday, Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority praised the new way it will be delivered.

“This day is long overdue,” said Kevin Corbett, Secretary of Health and Mental Health, CEO of Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

During Thursday’s morning press conference, Corbett stated that SoonerSelect changes how the state delivers health care to a million Oklahomans on Medicaid.

“When Medicaid expansion was put into our Constitution in the summer of 2020, I knew we needed to reassess how we deliver health care in our state,” said Stitt.

Instead of the state administering the program, in-state private companies will take over, which raises the administration costs from 4 to 15 percent.

Corbett stated the new model for SoonerSelect copies other states that focus on health outcomes and reward doctors if their patient’s health improves.

Leaders from Norman Regional Health System and Mercy Hospital took part in the press conference, promising the revamped program would focus on providing preventive care to patients with chronic health conditions.

“These same providers will follow them over days, months and years with a focus on improving their health and tracking their results, making tweaks to their diet, to their medication along the way to make sure that we’re caring for them at the highest level possible,” said Jim Gebhart, Community President, Mercy Hospital.

“SoonerSelect will effectively remove many of the barriers that have long impeded the delivery of continuous, high-quality medical care to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Richie Splitt, President and CEO of Norman Regional Health System.

The new managed-care plan has its critics, including those who worry that doctors who treat the sickest patients will be financially penalized if their outcomes don’t improve.

Dr. Mary Clarke with the Medical Association stated every dollar that goes to the administration does not go to patient care.

“The only way to go from 4 percent to 15 percent is you either cut services, or you cut reimbursement,” said Clarke, referring to the added costs for the doctors,” Clarke told KFOR on May 20.

“This value-based model creates a process that encourages preventive care with a focus on care coordination for patients, putting their patient and their health care provider at the center of the plan,” said Gebhart.