Agency to decide Oklahoma Medicaid cutbacks

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: December 3, 2009
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/> "Five percent cuts and 20 percent less income — the numbers don’t quite add up,” said Cox, R-Grove.

Fogarty said the Health Care Authority has been able to get by so far without making any cuts because it had about $7.3 million in carryover funds and received about $1.8 million as a result of a national class-action lawsuit dealing with pharmacy pricing. Cutting benefits was necessary to come up with the remaining $16.8 million, he said.

Any reduction in state dollars in Oklahoma’s Medicaid program results in a reduction in federal dollars to operate the program, he said. A $1 cut in state funds means a loss of $3 in federal funds, meaning a total loss of $4.

Vicki Kuestersteffen, deputy director of J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities, said her agency has used its carryover funds built up over the past three years to deal with the 5 percent budget reduction. Most of the money had been intended to build a summer camp for patients, she said.

She said the agency will do "whatever it takes” to keep its inpatient services at its Norman hospital.

State Mental Health Commissioner Terri White told committee members of plans to lay off about 100 employees of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Department as it cuts another $7.3 million. The department also will close a Norman substance abuse treatment center for adults and eliminate all of the state’s 40 mental health beds for children at another Norman facility. A men’s treatment center in Tahlequah will be closed, and operations will be streamlined at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman.

White said she’s concerned about increases in employee health insurance and retirement costs.

"We will have to cut services to pay for them.”