OKLAHOMA – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is warning, if their state appropriation is cut for fiscal year 2018, many programs and benefits for Medicaid patients could be eliminated.
Some of the programs and benefits being considered are pharmacy, behavioral health, durable medical equipment, the breast and cervical cancer treatment program, the waiver-funded Medically Fragile program and Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, private duty nursing services, adult organ transplants, dialysis, hospice services, physical and occupational therapy, and speech, hearing and language disorder services.
“That would be a horrendous thing for the state of Oklahoma to do,” said Leslie Whiles with New Direction Home Dialysis.
Whiles is still in shock dialysis is one of the benefits up for elimination.
“That would be an awful thing,” Whiles said.
Whiles said, if dialysis is no longer covered, it could in essence be a death sentence for some of her clients.
“What that would do is put people in a position. The ones who can afford to live can live, and the ones who can’t, well, you know,” Whiles said.
“And, this is certainly not what anybody wants,” said Becky Pasternik-Ikard, CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
Pasternik-Ikard said potential state budget cuts are forcing them to make the difficult decisions.
In addition to eliminating some of the benefits and programs, the agency is looking at a potential 25 percent rate cut to providers caring for Medicaid patients.
“It’s clearly evident that we can’t avoid a provider rate cut. It would be our goal to minimize it,” Pasternik-Ikard said.
Whiles said, even if the cuts are made, it won’t stop her from taking Medicaid patients.
“We’ll have to make the adjustments. We’re not going to pass it down to our patients and compromise their quality of care. We’ll just have to deal with it,” Whiles said.
The Oklahoma Hospital Association sent us this statement Tuesday in regards to the potential 25 percent rate cut for Medicaid providers:
“Proposed cuts to the state’s Medicaid agency could result in a potential 25 percent provider rate cut. In the context of today’s health care payment environment, further cuts to providers, let alone a dramatic cut of 25 percent, puts hospitals and the patients they serve at great risk, particularly in rural areas. With a 25 percent provider rate cut, four out of five hospitals in Oklahoma would not deliver babies and more than a dozen hospitals would likely close within one year. Our state leaders must act now to avert this crisis with long-term solutions, including a cigarette tax increase of $1.50 per pack dedicated to health care,” said President Craig W. Jones with Oklahoma Hospital Association.