OKLAHOMA CITY-State Senator Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, called on the CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to better explain why last March he mailed letters to Medicaid recipients notifying them that their services would be terminated. Pruitt delivered a letter signed by the entire Senate Republican Caucus to the Health Care Authority Wednesday to request the explanation.
"The director had commitments from the governor and the legislature that the money would be provided yet he worried thousands of Oklahomans by sending out that letter," Pruitt said. "It appeared to be a public relations scare tactic. The Health Care Authority has questions to answer regarding their operational inefficiencies."
Pruitt believes that HCA should focus on caring for the Medicaid population, not using them as leverage against legislative inquiries. "This is an agency that comes to the legislature every year with some crisis that requires a large supplemental appropriation and when you ask them to explain how they managed their budget so poorly they shift the blame," Pruitt said.
Senator Pruitt cites this past year as a clear example of their mismanagement. At the end of the 2000 session, HCA estimated that they would need a $7 million supplemental appropriation to fully fund the health care initiative implemented that session. However, when the budgeting process began this session HCA had more than tripled their previous request.
"I can understand their initial estimate being slightly low, but overspending their budget by three times is unacceptable," Pruitt said. "I wonder how many CEO's in America miss their budget by that much annually."
Pruitt hopes that HCA provides clear answers to the inquiry without further pressure. However, he has not ruled out additional legislative action to ensure their compliance.
"I hope the Health Care Authority will work with the legislature in an open, legitimate way to resolve these issues," Pruitt said. "If not, we will be forced to take more drastic action to guarantee the continued health care of our Medicaid recipients."