Press Release

January 30, 2020

GOVERNOR’S REMARKS AT TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCEMENT ON MEDICAID

Governor Kevin Stitt today joined Trump administration officials, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, in Washington, DC to announce the Healthy Adult Opportunity (HAO), which is an optional demonstration initiative by CMS to gives states unprecedented tools to design innovative health coverage programs for adult beneficiaries under age 65 for whom Medicaid coverage is optional.

In Governor Stitt’s speech, he laid out his new Oklahoma healthcare plan, called SoonerCare 2.0. He shared how the state will reclaim Oklahoma’s total federal Medicaid funds without new taxes and how the State will position itself to become one of the first in the nation to leverage the Trump administration’s new flexibility to deliver personal accountability and improve health outcomes in Oklahoma.

 

The copy of the text, as prepared for delivery, is below:

It is an honor to be here with you today, Secretary Azar and Administrator Seema Verma.

For the past several months, my administration in Oklahoma has been working on a healthcare plan for our State. As governor, I have cast a vision that in all things, we will pursue Top Ten status. Currently in Oklahoma, we have battled for generations with bottom ten healthcare outcomes. It’s time for that to change.

I have sought Oklahomans’ input in crafting my administration’s healthcare plan. They have told me that they want more access to care in rural Oklahoma; they want us to address wait times for basic healthcare services for our most vulnerable populations; and they want better care, quality care – not excessive care. 

I am also here today, because Oklahomans want their federal tax dollars to be returned to the state and put to work. But efforts to do this through amending our Constitution to force Medicaid Expansion are wrong and will be ineffective and will fail to fix our problems. 

We’ve been studying the best practices in all 50 states; and we’ve learned a lot about what is working and what isn’t. And one thing we know without a doubt is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to delivering better healthcare and better outcomes. Every state has their unique challenges, their unique climates, and their own cultures.

That is why the Trump administration’s announcement today is a game changer.

My administration has been working on SoonerCare 2.0 to capture our total federal dollars under Medicaid in a way that is more stable and accountable. Healthy Adult Opportunity couldn’t come at a better time. This initiative will now allow Oklahoma maximum opportunity to achieve what we were envisioning. Thank you, Administrator Verma and Sec. Azar for your leadership.

When I return home, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority will begin taking next steps on implementing SoonerCare 2.0 by applying for additional federal funds and the HAO flexibility waivers.

We will be seeking flexibility through HAO in order to innovate the delivery of services in the following ways:

We will achieve cost containment by changing our Medicaid system to focus on rewarding health outcomes and stronger performance in care. We will navigate away from the government-run, fee-for-service model that 40 other states have already abandoned, and we will focus this reform first on those that will become eligible under SoonerCare 2.0.

We will seek approval under HAO to push the limit of innovation and set up a program that creates expectations for able-bodied individuals to see this as a true trampoline to their future.

With flexibility, we will seek to establish moderate premiums to prepare members for the responsibility of transitioning to private health insurance coverage.

With flexibility, we will seek to establish work requirements that encourage Oklahomans to be engaged in activity that advances their personal potential – whether it be education, certification programs, work, or community involvement.

With flexibility, we seek to establish programs that better address Oklahoma’s unique rural needs, such as enhancing provider reimbursement, authorizing telehealth services, and reimagining “hospitals” to expand care options in areas with limited populations.

And with flexibility, we will seek to expand targeted treatment for opioid addiction and substance abuse. Oklahoma is in the midst of establishing a world-class research institution on opioid addiction. With HAO flexibility, we will be able to more quickly support our communities and implement lessons we are learning and discovering.

CMS and the Trump Administration have been listening to the needs of States like Oklahoma. From my constituents, I am here to say, “thank you”. Thank you for listening, thank you for innovating, and thank you for putting healthcare back to where it belongs – with the States. 

I look forward to continuing to work with this administration, and I am committed to positioning Oklahoma as one of the first states in the nation to take advantage of the Healthy Adult Opportunity initiative as we pursue SoonerCare 2.0 in the coming weeks.

 

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