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History will repeat itself and our state’s most vulnerable population will suffer

Under Oklahoma’s previous experience with managed care, 90% of Oklahoma’s dentist providers quit the program for many reasons, one of which was the routine denial of essential treatment. This resulted in the number of dentists dropping to less than 100 total Medicaid providers in the entire state. As you can imagine, this had a catastrophic effect on access to essential health care for our underserved children. Caregivers, especially in rural areas, were having to drive hours to have their child’s basic oral health care needs met. History will repeat itself and these children will suffer while for-profit insurance companies profit by compromising the health of our patients.

MCOs claim to be the solution to our low health grade, but how can that be true when they routinely, as a business practice, deny the healthcare our doctors have determined their patient’s need? How can a private, out-of-state, for-profit insurance company know more about what healthcare a patient needs than their doctor?

Our current system is one of the most efficiently and effectively run Medicaid programs in the country with an administration cost of less than 4% (compared to a cost of up to 15% for private managed care companies). How will these big insurance companies save the state money while spending THREE TIMES more?

Injecting third-party private companies into the state’s Medicaid program has serious ramifications for all aspects of the health care system, including the cost of prescription drugs, availability of long-term care, access to dental and medical providers, access to mental health care, and much more. That is why a coalition of 15 statewide health care associations, including the Oklahoma Dental Association, have joined together to protect our state’s Medicaid system.

We STRONGLY urge our Legislature to assert their power and stop managed care Medicaid before this colossal mistake is made. It is bad for our patients’ health and will be a very costly mistake for Oklahoma taxpayers.

Paul Mullasseril, is president of the Oklahoma Dental Association.