OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Rules Committee today unanimously approved a bill aimed at assuring the future of crucial partnerships between the state and medical programs at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.
House Bill 2299 by Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant, resulted from concerns that these partnerships could be eliminated through the efforts to privatize Oklahoma’s Medicaid system. Roberts’ bill passed by a vote of 8-0. It now goes to the full House of Representatives.
“Today’s action by the Rules Committee should be a source of great relief not only to these two vital medical programs, their faculty and students, but also to thousands upon thousands of Medicaid recipients in rural and underserved parts of Oklahoma,” Roberts said. “Those are the people who stand to suffer without this legislation.”
More than one-third of all Oklahoma Medicaid patients are treated by the state’s two medical schools and their physicians. The Enhanced Reimbursement Payment Program allows physicians who provide education to medical students and residents affiliated with these medical schools to bill for treatment of Medicaid patients at a higher rate, since they are in a teaching environment. This program has both full-time university physicians and private affiliated physicians. This is a federal matching program and does not require any funding from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. The universities provide the matching funds for this program.
“HB 2299 provides protections for our Medicaid patients being treated by healthcare providers across the state,” said Richard W. Schafer, DO, President of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association who endorses the bill. “Our fear is the managed care insurance companies have no history with our two medical schools and their vital programs, nor a vested interested in the long-term relationships between the teaching hospitals and the state. These partnerships will be an easy target, and without this bill, crucial policy will be set by these insurance companies without regard for the medical students and patients who benefit from these vital programs.”
Under HB 2299, known as the Oklahoma Medical Education Protection Act, the four managed care companies chosen to administer Oklahoma’s Medicaid program must protect the supplemental payment programs at their current level. The bill also prohibits these companies from attempting to divert patients away from the university teaching programs, their affiliated physicians or hospitals. Violations would be cause for terminating the contract.