Oklahoma lawmakers seek to put ‘guardrails’ on privatized Medicaid expansion

Oklahoma Politics
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt has been pushing for privatized Medicaid expansion for months and it looks like he will get his wish.

It looks like legislators have given up their fight to keep the expansion, voted for by Oklahomans last year, in the hands of the state, but that doesn’t mean they are done with the issue.

They are now focusing on making sure Oklahoma doesnt repeat the mistakes made by the 42 other states that have some sort of managed care.

“There are some things that we have seen in other states that managed care companies have done that make it really hard for providers to be successful,” said Sen. Greg McCortney.

The Republican from Ada is talking about the rewriting of Senate Bill 131. Instead of pushing for state-run Medicaid expansion. The authors say it puts guardrails on the Governor’s privatized plan to make sure Managed Care Organizations keep up their end of the deal.

“Making sure our providers get paid in time, making sure that the Medicaid patients themselves don’t have to wait long for prior authorizations,” said Rep. Marcus McEntire, the bill’s co-author.

“In rural Oklahoma, we want to make sure that we protect those providers so our hospitals stay open, our doctors can stay in small town Oklahoma. So we put some guardrails in to make sure that the way they work with these managed care organizations can make everybody successful,” said McCortney.

The bill also makes sure that if MCO’s don’t follow rules they would be breaking state law

“Unfortunately, a lot of these policies have been around for a long time, since it took Oklahoma so long to accept Medicaid expansion. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from other states mistakes,” said Senator Mary Boren.

Lawmakers are calling this a compromise bill, but some still think state-run expansion was the way to go. They say only two of the four MCO’s involved are Oklahoma based.

“I just personally don’t want to see Oklahoma’s tax dollars going to enrich huge companies. I’d rather use that money to invest back into our healthcare system within the state,” said McEntire.

“It’s absolutely not my dream come true bill. I’ve come to believe that good policy is policy where everyone is angry and right now we have very good policy, I believe,” said McCortney.

If the bill passes through the House and Senate as expected it would likely face a veto from the Governor.

“If the Governor vetos the bill, I very much expect the legislature to take up an override on the veto,” said McCortney.

We reached out to the Governor’s office. They say they don’t have any comment on the bill at this time. The guardrail bill did pass through the Senate today; it now moves to the House.

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