New approach to Medicaid could save Oklahoma money, improve outcomes

Oklahoman Published: April 9, 2014

OKLAHOMA lawmakers say they’re committed to increasing public school funding. Many Republicans say they’re committed to controlling state spending elsewhere. Yet lawmakers’ resistance to Medicaid reform undermines both goals.

Senate Bill 1495, by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, would allow the use of privately managed care in Oklahoma’s Medicaid program on a pilot-project basis. The bill passed the Senate, but apparently won’t be heard in the House.

That’s a mistake.

Without reform, Medicaid threatens to consume an ever-larger share of state funding. This diverts tax dollars from schools, roads and public safety. As chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, David knows that more than most.

“Our costs are skyrocketing,” she said. “Our (Medicaid) population is skyrocketing. We’re in an unsustainable cycle right now.”

Under managed care, Medicaid patients would be offered multiple plans similar to traditional insurance policies. Patients could select the plan best tailored to their individual medical needs. “Right now, they don’t have a choice,” David said.

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