More than two dozen Republican lawmakers signed a letter asking Gov. Kevin Stitt to back off his plans to privatize the administration of the state’s Medicaid program, one of them said Friday.
Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, said health care providers in his southeastern Oklahoma district are adamantly opposed to converting the current state-managed program to a private system.
“You don’t walk out of a room with them confused about where they stand,” Humphrey said.
He said health care professionals have told him a switch to what’s known as capitated or managed care will mean “quality goes down, prices go up and local options will become fewer.”
The letter was signed by 24 House members and two state senators. Most represent rural areas.
Since gaining almost complete control of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, Stitt has pressed for a conversion to managed care. His plans have met fairly broad opposition in the Legislature, but lawmakers have limited ability to halt the changeover.
Stitt has said he plans to have contracts in place by late this winter and a new system fully operational by next fall, something people with experience in the field say will be a difficult task.
Under managed care the state pays a private contractor a flat amount per patient per month. If the contractor holds expenses below that amount, the money left over is generally split between it and the state.
Federal law and often the contract with the state impose some service and quality requirements, but critics say managed systems have generally performed worse than those operated by state agencies.
Humphrey and others point out that Oklahoma’s system has generally been seen as a model for other states, with administrative costs around 4%.
“If we’re in the top 5, we’re doing pretty good,” said Humphrey. “Why touch it?”
A 2018 report said managed care administrative costs ranged from 7.1% to 15%.
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