OHCA board approves provider payment delay

Posted on: 7/5/17


Some SoonerCare (Medicaid) payments to hospitals and other providers will be delayed next June so that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) could avoid provider rate cuts for the new state fiscal year (SFY), which began July 1.

The OHCA board approved a SFY 2018 Budget Work Plan at their June 29 meeting.

The Budget Work Plan required spending reductions, as the Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $34 million less to OHCA than was needed to keep the SoonerCare program operating at current payment rates. Rather than cutting payment rates, the plan will shift some June 2018 provider payments into July 2018, which falls in the following fiscal year (SFY 2019).  

The number of weeks for which payment will be delayed depends on whether Congress extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) past Sep. 30, 2017. The federal matching rate for CHIP, which covers certain kids and pregnant women, is currently higher than for Medicaid. Under existing law, the state will have to pick up a larger share of the cost of CHIP starting Oct. 1. If CHIP funding is not extended by Congress, OHCA will delay provider payments from the last three weeks of June 2018 to July. If the favorable CHIP matching rate is extended by Congress, OHCA will need to delay only one weekly payment cycle to July.

Either way, the need for additional funding to avoid a provider payment rate cut is delayed a year, but not resolved.
The agency’s appropriation may be further affected by a lawsuit challenging the $1.50 per pack “cigarette fee” scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 24. OHCA is to receive $70 million from the cigarette fee in SFY 2017. The Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Aug. 8 on this case.  (Rick Snyder)

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