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Point of View: 'Privatize' doesn't capture Medicaid plan

“Privatize” is an often-used pejorative term to indicate the transfer of power and management of a governmental service to a private concern. That is not what is happening here.

First, the Medicaid agency is considered perhaps the best led and administered state agency in Oklahoma. This is part of the problem. Many providers are afraid any change will lessen the agency’s historic excellence. In classic turns, to privatize the work of government means to turn over the complete functioning of a governmental body to a nongovernmental entity. What is happening here is that the agency will negotiate with one or more insurance companies for the movement of Medicaid patients through the medical system. The agency is giving up none of its oversight or control to any nongovernmental entity.

Historically, the agency has negotiated with literally thousands of private entities to deliver health care services. These entities are, by definition, private businesses. They include all types of providers (i.e., doctors and hospitals) and numerous other service providers such as computer companies, consultants, etc. The concept here is that the organizations getting these contracts will be under the strictest monitoring to ensure the delivery of efficient and effective health care services to Medicaid recipients.

The concept is twofold: (1) an incentive for providers to keep Medicaid recipients healthy, and to be rewarded for doing so; and (2) for Medicaid recipients to continue to receive medical services when it is needed or appropriate.

Millions of Americans in the business community live under managed care contracts, have done so for years, and thrive and stay healthy in these arrangements. The board of the agency and its staff, through its contracting mechanism, will ensure Medicaid recipients continue to receive the very best medical services when those services are necessary and appropriate. Recipients are due that assurance and the Oklahoma taxpayers should accept nothing less.

Stanley F. Hupfeld is the chairman of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority