LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -We've been hearing a lot about cuts in our state due to shortfalls in the budget. These cuts have already been felt in hospitals after Medicaid rates were cut earlier this year, leaving hospitals at a shortfall and it could get much worse.
Starting June 1, the Oklahoma health care authority will cut Medicaid reimbursement rates by 25 percent.
"Considering Medicaid rates do not even come close to covering the cost of care in many cases, this will be devastating for communities across the state of Oklahoma," said CCMH CEO Brent Smith.
Smith says the first thing that will happen as a result of the cut will be a large staff reduction in healthcare organizations across the state to offset the reduction in revenue.
"Healthcare providers will evaluate all service lines. There is a possibility the service line with a high percentage of Medicaid patients could be eliminated, such as OB and mental health services," Smith said.
Smith says if this cut becomes a reality, 93 percent of nursing homes would be at risk of closure, due to the fact that 70 percent of all long-term nursing home patients are paid for by Medicaid. That means 16,000 seniors would be displaced from their homes and 20,000 nursing home employees would be without jobs. Two solutions to this crisis have been proposed to legislators: the Medicaid Rebalancing Act of 2020 and a $1.50 per pack increase to the cigarette tax.
"The goal of both of these initiatives is number 1) to increase the number of Oklahoman's with healthcare coverage, 2) have a positive impact on economic growth and 3) to stabilize the healthcare system," Smith said.
These cuts have already impacted our area and forced Memorial Hospital and Physician Group in Frederick to no longer offer emergency room or inpatient services. Smith says there is something you can do to help prevent this from happening to other healthcare facilities in Southwest Oklahoma.
"We need your help in contacting our legislators to prevent these cuts from happening. We need to ensure that we are able to offer the highest quality of care for many years to come," Smith said.
To learn more about the Medicaid Rebalancing Act of 2020 and the increase in the cigarette tax, visit makeokbetter.org.
In other health news, be sure to mark your calendar for the free skin cancer screenings at the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton. It will be held on Saturday, May 14, from 8 a.m. until noon. To schedule an appointment, call 580-250-6565.