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Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board Postpones Vote On Reimbursement Rate Cut

Nico Gomez, CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
Warren Vieth
Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority board did not vote on a proposal to cut Medicaid reimbursement rates to providers by 25 percent at its meeting on Monday.

OHCA CEO Nico Gomez originally proposed the cut in March due to the state’s projected $1.3 billion budget dollar shortfall. At Monday’s meeting, Gomez asked the board to delay action because legislators had not yet released a budget. The Oklahoma legislature is in the final week of its session, and a budget agreement had not emerged as of Monday afternoon.

“I mean there’s so many scenarios floating around, and that’s what’s frustrating about this time of year,” Gomez said. “You’re always dealing with rumors and they don’t mean a whole lot because until they get to the room and negotiate and that’s what they’re agreement to and then, once they get to the agreement, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen because the membership has to vote and approve it.”

Gomez had announced the proposed 25 percent reimbursement rate cut in March, following two state revenue failures.

Oklahoma Hospital Association executive director Craig Jones said the delay puts hospitals in a bind.

“Usually no news is good news but I would say no news is really bad news because we’re in no better shape to know what the future is going to be,” Jones said. “That’s not a fault on the Healthcare Authority. That’s a fault of the legislature.”

Gomez had championed a proposal earlier in the session to raise the tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes and reduce Oklahoma’s uninsured rate by shifting some SoonerCare recipient to subsidized private health insurance and opening up Insure Oklahoma to some uninsured individuals who earn 133 percent of the poverty level or less. The plan would tap into federal matching dollars. That proposal now appears to be dead.

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