OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma medical professionals will get more money for treating Medicaid patients for the first time in nearly a decade.
The 3 percent rate hike came after years of cuts from budget shortfalls, the Oklahoman reported. Medical professionals saw their Medicaid reimbursements rates fall by nearly 3.3 percent in 2010, by almost 7.8 percent in 2014 and by 3 percent in 2016.
The last time the rate increased was in 2009.
Nursing home providers will now see a rate increase of 3.2 percent in reimbursements from the state for treating patients on SoonerCare, Oklahoma's Medicaid program. Lawmakers approved a 2 percent increase, but the Oklahoma Health Care Authority planned to use savings from program changes — along with drug rebate collections — to boost the rate hike an additional percentage point.
The state's contribution for nursing homes will increase from about $146 to more than $150 per day, which is still about $15 short of what it costs on average to take care of a long-term patient, according to nursing home advocates. Facilities plan to make up the difference with rates paid by residents who aren't on state aid.
"We're grateful," said Nico Gomez, CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers. "We just have a little further to go."
The authority on Thursday reported on the status of a legislative mandate that could require some unemployed Medicaid recipients to get a job or volunteer. Many recipients under the mandate would be exempt, including those younger than 19 or older than 50, pregnant women, people unable to work and parents of children younger than 6.
The agency has so far received about 1,000 comments from the public about the mandate, which must be approved by federal regulators before they go into effect. The authority will accept public comments until the end of this month, when they will then submit their proposal to the federal government.