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Oklahoma is on the verge of making a huge mistake with regards to our budget, and more importantly, the health of our underserved children.

Gov. Kevin Stitt recently announced his plan to turn the state’s Medicaid program over to a for-profit, out-of-state insurance company known as a managed care organization.

If successful, it will take control of the administration of all health and dental care for children in the state’s current program (SoonerCare).

I am one of over 1,000 dentists currently treating Medicaid children in Oklahoma. We are unified in our very strong opposition to moving Oklahoma’s Medicaid program to a managed care system.

Under Oklahoma’s previous experience with managed care, 90% of Oklahoma’s dentist providers quit the program for many reasons, one of which was the routine denial of essential treatment for these children.

This resulted in the number of dentists dropping to less than 100 total Medicaid providers in the entire state.

As you can imagine, this had a catastrophic effect on access to essential health care for our underserved children.

Caregivers, especially in rural areas, were having to drive hours to have their child’s basic oral health care needs met.

History will repeat itself, and our state’s most vulnerable population will suffer while for-profit insurance companies profit by compromising the health of our patients.

We strongly urge our Legislature to assert its power and stop managed care Medicaid before this colossal mistake is made.

It is bad for Oklahoma children and a very costly mistake for Oklahoma.

Editor’s Note: Robert Herman, D.D.S., is the vice president of the Oklahoma Dental Association. 

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Letter: Oklahoma history repeating itself with devastating Medicaid privatization – Tulsa World