- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Health Care Authority said it needs at least $164 million in extra state funds for the next fiscal year to keep up the state’s Medicaid program.

Leaders of the state’s Medicaid agency say the money would replace lost federal funding and address a 4 percent expected growth in the program. There’s a $61 million hole from one-time carryover money it received from the state Legislature. Because of a federal mandate, the organization said it also must hire an in-house administrative law judge.

The $164 million request is a part of a larger $275 million request in additional state dollars the organization wants in fiscal 2016. It already receives in $953 million in base funding, The Oklahoman reported (http://bit.ly/1uR1Qn1 ).

The agency also hopes to increase the rate it pays to physicians and other medical professionals who provide health care to Medicaid recipients. The rates Medicaid providers are paid have been cut twice over the past six years. In the 2010 fiscal year, rates were reduced by 3.25 percent and then again by 7.75 percent for the current fiscal year.

“We realize that providers are essential to this program,” said Vickie Kersey, the agency’s director of fiscal planning and procurement. “They’re vital to the health of our members as well as our success.”

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority anticipates it will receive $46 million less in federal money to administer the Medicaid program. A formula is used to figure out how much Oklahoma should receive in matching federal dollars. Agency leaders say the state receives less money whenever its economy is doing well because of the way the formula is configured.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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