UPDATE: Senate Bill 1337 was signed into law by Gov. Stitt.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Senate Bill 1337 has passed Oklahoma’s House and Senate – if signed by Gov. Stitt, private healthcare providers will be awarded contracts to manage Medicaid for patients in the Sooner State.
The bill passed the Senate Thursday, May 19, and the House the following day.
In 2020, State Question 802 was passed, allowing Medicaid coverage for about 200,000 lower-income Oklahomans.
Two years later, Oklahoma lawmakers now put the power of that expansion with instate private health providers.
“What we tried in the nineties depended on out of state insurance companies to care about the people of Oklahoma, and that didn’t work out very well,” said Greg McCortney, Republican Senator from Ada and author of the bill.
Both McCortney and Dr. Mary Clarke agree that the model from the 1990s did not work.
But Clarke said that going from what the state has now to McCortney’s SB 1337 is not much different than the earlier plans for managed care.
“To make those kinds of changes, to step back to the 1990s, potentially, is really a worrisome thing for most physicians and providers,” said Clarke.
Her biggest point of concern had to do with overhead fees.
Right now, the state has a 4-percent administration fee, which is one of the lowest in the country.
If Senate Bill 1337 becomes law, fees could increase up to 15 percent.
“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.
This higher fee, she said, could force people to drive longer distances to seek care.
“Now you have no local physician and you have to drive 30 miles to the next town,” said Dr. Clarke.
SB 1337 now heads to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk for his signature.