Senator Clark Jolley of Edmond, a leading Republican in the upper chamber of the Oklahoma state Legislature, said the recently reported low error rate for Medicaid is the beginning, not the end, of discussion about challenges facing Medicaid in the state.
The Oklahoma Health Care Finance authority reported recently that the state’s Medicaid program (SoonerCare) had one of the lowest Medicaid error rates among 17 states studied, at 1.2 percent. The national average is 8.9 percent, said Jo Kilgore of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
During a press conference today (Wednesday, January 19) at which Republicans in the Senate unveiled their agenda for the 2011 legislative session, members of the caucus promised to seek affordable and accessible health care for Oklahomans. One means to do so, the group promised, was to “attack fraud and abuse within the Medicaid system."
Jolley, who presented the GOP’s agenda in the health care arena, responded to questions from CapitolBeatOK about the recent HCFA analysis.
Jolley agreed, “That is a low error rate, but even a 1.2% error rate adds up to a lot of dollars. We need to talk to medical professionals about practices and discern what is considered an error. It might be that some things are being left out that might increase that percentage.”
As Jolley noted, “Yes it was an agency studying itself, but the larger issue is that this is an issue being considered nationally. I note that Mississippi has taken a lot of aggressive steps because some receiving the benefits might not have been properly receiving. They reduced the rolls and that might be needed in some other states.”
He continued, “I certainly don’t think Oklahoma is alone in being concerned about this issue. We have to do everything we can to reduce the errors in the system.”
According to the Health Care Finance Authority, in the most recent data available (Fiscal year 2009 through June 10, 2010), there were over 885,000 Oklahomans enrolled in SoonerCare and Insure Oklahoma (the authority’s health insurance for low income working Oklahomans). This represents 24 percent of the state’s population. Enrolled in SoonerCare are some 474,260 children (66% of total enrollment).