After mother's advocacy, board decides against Oklahoma Medicaid rule change

After Ashley Zeno, of Mustang, spoke out about proposed rule change regarding private duty nursing, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority board determined it would spend the next year studying the issue. The authority's board will not vote on the issue at its Thursday board meeting.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: March 15, 2013

When Ashley Zeno decided to speak out, it wasn't because she was worried about losing her job.

Rather, she was worried that a proposed rule change from Oklahoma's Medicaid agency would disrupt the daily nursing care her son receives.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority had planned to vote on a proposed rule change that would have required private-duty nurses to not be related to the children they serve.

Zeno serves as one of Joey's private-duty nurses and is reimbursed for the care through Oklahoma's Medicaid system.

However, earlier this past week, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority board determined it would not vote on the measure. Instead, the authority, which serves as Oklahoma's Medicaid agency, will spend the next year studying the private-duty care system, including the rule Zeno was concerned about.

“It isn't about a nurse and her job,” Zeno said. “This isn't about a mom being able to stay home and have an easier life. This is 100 percent about this child and every child that is on private-duty nursing services receiving continuity of care. You cannot reach your maximum potential if you do not have continuity of care.”

The decision came after Zeno was interviewed for a story that ran in The Oklahoman on Sunday.

Each year, the health care authority analyzes which policies it should update. Authority staff members research each rule change before the rules are voted on.

Authority spokeswoman Jo Kilgore said the authority has heard from Medicaid members, lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin's office regarding the issue.

“It was not intended to hurt anybody or cause any issues with people,” Kilgore said. “If there are unintended consequences, we want to make sure those are thoroughly vetted and addressed and make sure we're doing what's best for the member.”

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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