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State Cuts Medicaid Budget by $17 Million

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The cuts go even deeper, for every one state dollar lost Sooner Care loses three more federal dollars in matching funds. The cuts go even deeper, for every one state dollar lost Sooner Care loses three more federal dollars in matching funds.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

Oklahoma's Medicaid program is also wrestling with deep cuts at a time when enrollments are reaching record levels.

State leaders trimmed nearly $17 million from Sooner Care Thursday.

Some say those who can least afford it are shouldering much of the burden for these cuts.

Millions of dollars in the hole, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority gathered in Tulsa to make some tough decisions.

They are not just shuffling numbers, They are juggling health care costs for a record 825,000 Oklahomans.

Mike Fogarty, OHCA CEO said, "We tried to target these in ways that will not result in harm coming to one of our enrollees as a result of the decisions we had to make today."

The state health care authority administers Sooner Care or Oklahoma's version of Medicaid. Like all state agencies, OHCA needs to cut 5% of its budget to make up for the shortfall in state revenues.

The cuts go even deeper, for every one state dollar lost Sooner Care loses three more federal dollars in matching funds.

"That's always very attractive when we're making that investment. But it makes days like today even more difficult," Fogarty said.

The board unanimously approved a string of recommendations including a 5% cut in administrative costs increasing co-payments for Medicaid recipients and eliminating coverage of some medical products, like blood sugar monitors and some oxygen equipment.

"I understand the need for reductions and I support that. My biggest concern is when they remove a service they currently provide that is needed," said Ellen Huffmaster.

Ellen Huffmaster is a nurse from Enid. She says cutting preventive care now will cost more money in the long run.

Some do not understand why doctors and hospitals are not sharing more of the burden.

David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute, said, "If we are asking people to sacrifice than looking at modest cuts at what physicians make what nursing homes are paid needs to be part of a balanced approach."

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority's chief says the agency did trim pricing and reimbursements to doctors and hospitals.

 This may not be the last round of cuts the agency faces.

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