Medicaid privatization plan clears Oklahoma Senate

By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A plan to test privatizing the management of health care services to the poor in Oklahoma narrowly passed the state Senate on Thursday over the objections of opponents concerned it will lead to lower reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals.

The Senate voted 25-21 for the Oklahoma Medicaid Reform Act of 2014, giving it just enough votes to secure passage. The bill now heads to the House, where it is expected to undergo changes.

Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, the bill’s author, said the goal is to establish a pilot managed-care program in which Medicaid recipients receive health care services from a private company that contracts with the state. Currently, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is the state agency that oversees health care services for the more than 800,000 Oklahomans, mostly children, who qualify for the state Medicaid program called SoonerCare.

“What I’m trying to do is privatize it, where it needs to be,” David said. “Let’s do a pilot study and see if we can do it better in the private market.”

Read the complete story from the AP.