A consultant firm hired to study Oklahoma's health care options will soon begin focus groups to gather perspectives from stakeholders.
Tony Armstrong, the vice chairman of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority's board, said at the board meeting Thursday that, over the next three months, Leavitt Partners will meet with physicians and other people in health care to discuss Oklahoma's options in how it moves forward in its health care plan.
In January, the board approved a $500,000 contract with Utah-based Leavitt Partners to analyze how best to provide health care coverage for as many as 200,000 low-income Oklahomans who would have qualified for Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Gov. Mary Fallin announced in November that Oklahoma would not expand its Medicaid program or create a state-run health care exchange, both elements of the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care law passed in 2010.
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is the primary agency charged with handling SoonerCare, the state's Medicaid program.
Armstrong said he hoped Leavitt Partners would have preliminary information before the Legislature adjourns in May, but he wasn't sure at this point.
Also at the meeting, Mike Fogarty, Oklahoma Health Care Authority's retiring CEO, announced that the authority had signed a lease and hoped to move to its new location by the end of 2013.
The health care authority is housed in offices at Shepherd Mall at 2401 NW 23 St. in what used to be an AOL call center. The agency moved to Shepherd Mall in 2010 after heavy rains damaged its previous location.
The authority will move to a renovated hotel on Lincoln Boulevard, north of the Capitol.
“It's been a long time coming, as you know, and I was really, really hoping to get that lease signed while I still have the authority to sign it,” Fogarty said.
The meeting was Fogarty's last meeting as CEO of the agency. Fogarty's last day at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is March 1. The board selected Nico Gomez to serve as Fogarty's replacement.
Fogarty has been CEO of the authority for a majority of the time it has existed. The Legislature created the authority in 1993. Fogarty has been CEO since 1999 and attributed much of the agency's success to the staff.
“It has been successful because I was fortunate enough to have inherited and then add to an incredible group of people who come here every day fully committed to take care of Oklahomans,” Fogarty said.
Contributing: Staff Writer Zeke Campfield