Oklahomans prepare for changes under health care reform act
Although many of the reforms associated with the federal health care reform act will take effect in 2014, Oklahomans will notice some changes coming on Jan. 1, including a tax increase on wages and investment revenue and for high-income individuals.
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The Oklahoma Health Care Authority also has been prepping for changes that come with the new year for Medicaid programs in Oklahoma.
The law mandates that the state now pay primary care physicians 100 percent of the Medicare rates, which is a slight increase to the rates already being paid in Oklahoma. Each state operates its own Medicaid program to provide health coverage for lower-income people, families, children, the elderly and the disabled.
In Oklahoma, the rate set to pay primary care physicians is almost 97 percent of the current Medicare rate, said Kelly Taylor, director of reimbursement for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
She said the increase in the fees paid to primary care physicians is estimated to cost the state $7.3 million in the last half of fiscal year 2013.
In fiscal year 2012, Medicaid paid physicians $535 million, so Taylor estimated it will be a 1.37 percent increase.
The federal government will reimburse Oklahoma for the entire cost of the increased payments, she said.
Some states' reimbursement rates were much lower than Oklahoma's and were at 70 percent or less of the Medicare rates, she said.
Taylor said letters are being sent out to physicians to inform them of the higher rates and paperwork they must fill out to certify that they are primary care physicians.