Guardrails for managed care

by Marcus McEntire

I gave this fight everything I had, but it looks like the state is going to be forced to accept the governor’s $2.2 billion Managed Care Plan for Medicaid expansion.

Earlier this session, I amended Senate Bill 131 to require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to implement internal managed care instead of outsourcing to out-of-state, for-profit, private corporations. The Senate rejected my amendment. Instead, the bill went to conference committee where some “guardrail” language was inserted. Though this issue will still need some work next year, this at least gives the Legislature some input into the boundaries within which the corporations tasked with overseeing Medicaid will need to operate to meet the needs of Medicaid patents and the health care providers who treat them. 

Since contracts have been signed with these corporate managers, we at least should be able to say we are providing the best care and the best service for that plan.

I’m so proud of my colleagues in the House for the courage they displayed in passing my original amended version of this bill. They passed the new version of this bill Thursday. With $2.2 billion of taxpayer money at stake, we simply must retain some legislative oversight into how that money is spent, and at least allows that.  

Also this week, the House approved the general appropriations bill to fund state government for Fiscal year 2022, which starts in July. This $8.8 billion budget is the largest and most comprehensive in state history. It contains a record $3.2 billion for common education, an increase of $210.3 million from last year. This will allow us to enforce lower class sizes in kindergarten and first grade grades. This hopefully will result in greater academic success for these students as they advance in school. This funding also will allow us to create greater equity for school districts in low property value areas, and it will boost per-student funding by getting rid of duplicate student counts in the school funding formula.

This budget also restores transportation funding, making the state’s ROADS Fund and our County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Fund whole after a year of borrowing from the funds to help other areas of government during the pandemic.

We’re also allowing $42 million in tax incentives for rural broadband expansion to underserved or unserved areas. This will benefit Oklahomans who now lack access to high-speed internet. This is crucial in our current society.

We’re also saving some money in this budget. We saw during the pandemic and during previous economic downturns how important it is to have some state reserves. 

These are just the highlights of the budget. It’s much better than we could have anticipated at the start of the last fiscal year when we had no idea what the effects of the pandemic would be.

In the meantime, if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me at or (405) 557-7327.

United for Oklahoma - June
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