Buffy Heater, chief strategy officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, is evaluating options for shifting part of Oklahoma’s Medicaid population into a “coordinated care” program using private-sector contractors.
Warren Vieth / Oklahoma Watch

At the insistence of state lawmakers, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is exploring cost-saving options that could lead to partial privatization of the state’s $2.4 billion Medicaid program for aged, blind and disabled people.

The state tried that once before, and it didn’t work out. Costs escalated, companies dropped out, and the state pulled the plug. Supporters of the new effort predicted it might turn out better because of improvements in managed-care practices.

creationc / Stock.XCHNG

The operator of an Oklahoma mental health care facility has been sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly billing fraudulent claims to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office announced the sentence Wednesday for John Michael Doneti, a licensed professional counselor who ran Central Oklahoma Behavioral Health Services, LLC. Doneti was also sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $194,000 in restitution.

Insure Oklahoma logo

State and tribal leaders in Oklahoma are exploring opportunities for a federal waiver that could mean health insurance for more than 40,000 low-income uninsured tribal members in the state.

While state leaders oppose a Medicaid expansion offered under the federal health care law, this latest idea to expand Insure Oklahoma would involve no state funds.

James Martin/Flickr

While some Republican-led states are exploring whether to expand Medicaid to include more low-income residents, Oklahoma's GOP leaders remain steadfastly opposed to the idea.

The head of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority says there is no effort underway to seek a Medicaid expansion or even develop an Oklahoma-specific plan for seeking available funding.

Indiana recently received approval to expand Medicaid through a state-run program, making it the 128th state to do so and the 10th with a Republican in the governor's mansion.

Oklahoma Watch

Starting this weekend, an estimated 446,000 low-to-middle-income Oklahomans can sign up for government-subsidized health insurance for 2015 through the online marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.

The 2015 open enrollment period begins Saturday, Nov. 15, and ends Sunday, Feb. 15. Federal officials and ACA advocates are encouraging people to complete their applications by Dec. 15 to avoid ensure their coverage begins on Jan. 1.

A recent national survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., showed that 89 percent of uninsured people were not aware that open enrollment begins this month.

“It’s an unfortunate continuation of a trend that’s been going on for quite a while now,” Kaiser Foundation Senior Fellow Karen Politz said in a briefing with reporters. “People really aren’t that familiar with what’s in the ACA, whether it will help them, and what the rules are.”

Finzio / Flickr Creative Commons

The operator of some Oklahoma dental clinics has agreed to pay more than $5 million to settle allegations that it submitted false Medicaid claims.

Federal and state prosecutors said Friday they had alleged that Ocean Dental, which operates clinics throughout the state, submitted false Medicaid claims for work that was either never performed or billed at higher rates than allowed.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

Healthcare advocates asked lawmakers Tuesday to find solutions to reduce Oklahoma’s uninsured population -- whether it be accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act or via its own state funded alternative.

The comments were made in the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Health during a combination of interim studies related to healthcare funding, access and the uninsured.

The studies were requested by Reps. David Perryman, D-Chickasha; Emily Virgin, D-Norman; Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs; Chuck Hoskin, D-Vinita.

More Money Needed For Oklahoma Health Care Authority

Oct 10, 2014
Charles Ed McFall, Chairman, The Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board of Directors
Oklahoma Health Care Authority

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board approved a request to the legislature to increase funding by $275 million for next fiscal year. Of that increase, nearly 60% would fund the agency’s priority items and maintain their existing program in fiscal year 2016.

The increase would add to the base funding of around $953 million in state funds.

Oklahoma nursing homes are rated 49th and Oklahoma’s health care system for the elderly is ranked 47th in two new studies. A three-year $11.5 million dollar grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative will help deal with some of the shortcomings. Increased state funding is still needed to improve the health of Oklahoma seniors.

peggydavis66 /

Some hospital officials say they're frustrated over losing out on reimbursements because Medicaid wasn't expanded in Oklahoma.

The Tulsa World reports a report by the Urban Institute finds Oklahoma hospitals are projected to lose more than $4 billion in reimbursements between 2013 and 2022. Some Tulsa hospitals say they've let go of workers to offset the lost revenue.