ONA, AONP encourage state leaders to address Medicaid crisis

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AONP, ONA encourage state leaders to address Medicaid crisis

Nurses and nurse practitioners are encouraged to write to legislators, Health Care Authority 

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 14, 2016) – The Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners (AONP) and the Oklahoma Nurses Association (ONA) today pledged to work with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) and state leaders as they seek a solution to the state’s looming Medicaid crisis. The associations warned that proposed 25% cuts in provider rates could force some clinics and hospitals out of business, affecting the delivery of health care, behavioral health care and long-term care.

The action came after OHCA CEO Nico Gomez met with Oklahoma nurses and nurse practitioners on a webinar and conference call last week to review the details of the proposed Medicaid Rebalancing Act.

“Nurse practitioners join with other health care professionals from across the state in asking the legislature to take action now,” AONP President Erin Trippy said. “The reach of the proposed provider rate cuts will extend far beyond patients on Medicaid. As clinics and hospitals are forced to shut down, these cuts will devastate access to health care for thousands more.”

“Legislators need to hear from nurses and other health care providers about the effects these Medicaid cuts will have on their patients and their facilities,” said ONA President, Joseph Catalano, RN, PhD. “These cuts will affect all of us, not just those on Medicaid, as mental health providers, hospitals and long term care facilities work to provide nursing care with reduced funding.”

On Tuesday, March 29, the OHCA proposed 25 percent across-the-board cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates in response to the state’s budget shortfall. Later in the week, Gomez presented a plan, the Oklahoma Medicaid Rebalancing Act, which is intended to shore up the state’s Medicaid system by creating new Insure Oklahoma program options, moving some SoonerCare members to private insurance and restoring provider rates back to current levels as soon as possible. 

“The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has presented one solution,” Trippy said, “and we stand ready to help state leaders develop that plan and ensure that it works for patients, the health care industry and all Oklahomans.”

Catalano echoed strong support for the plan by members of his organization.

“While the proposed Medicaid Rebalancing Act will reduce the number of lives on Medicaid, it follows in the Oklahoma pioneering tradition of applying for a waiver to create our state’s own independent healthcare plan to ensure a strong and healthy population” he said. 

AONP and ONA encourage nurses and nurse practitioners from across the state to write to the OHCA and their legislators, explaining how a 25 percent cut in provider rates would affect them, their patients and their practices. Emails to the OHCA may be sent to PublicComment@okhca.org