For the first time, lawmakers comprising the Legislative Healthcare Working Group met at the Capitol in an effort to begin a process for developing solutions to better Oklahoma’s healthcare.
The bi-partisan, bi-cameral group was formed by House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City in an effort to develop a solution for Oklahoma to increase access to healthcare and find a way to provide insurance coverage for more citizens. Gov. Kevin Stitt, Treat and McCall hope the working group will be able to accomplish this task without leaving the state “paying millions of dollars in costs if the federal government decides to lessen its portion of Medicaid expenses.”
During the first meeting, the group heard from Oklahoma Department of Health and Oklahoma Health Care Authority as they began the groundwork for a healthier Oklahoma.
Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, serves as a co-chair of the working group alongside Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada. McEntire hopes that through speaking with stakeholders, ranging from patients to providers, from policy experts to insurance carriers and from facilities to state agencies will prove fruitful in the mission of finding solutions to address health care and insurance needs for Oklahoma residents.
“The overall goal of this group, and really everyone working on healthcare solutions, is to create a healthy Oklahoma,” McEntire said. “We want to improve the way our citizens access healthcare and the way we deliver healthcare, and we want find a solution that will make it more affordable for our citizens.”
According to McEntire, a solution for Oklahoma won’t be cookie-cutter or a “one size fits all” approach.
“We have too many Oklahomans who lack insurance, and we have a healthcare system that is struggling to deliver care in rural parts of the state,” McEntire said. “It is vital that we find a way to provide health insurance and services for low-income and needy Oklahomans, but we need a solution that uniquely fits the needs of Oklahomans and is affordable. This is not going to be a quick or easy fix, so I am very grateful that we have started a collaborative effort that will bring everyone together with a common goal that will move us forward.”
McCortney said the first meeting was successful and productive.
“It also showed us what we all know to be true and that is there’s a lot of work to be done in the arena of improving health care outcomes and increasing access to quality health care in Oklahoma,” McCortney said. “I’m excited to be co-chairing this group alongside Rep. McEntire. We’re committed to hearing from all sides of the equation. Ultimately, our goal is to collect good data and input from all stakeholders that will better inform the working group as we look at policy recommendations for the entire Legislature to consider.”
The group will meet weekly.