Statement: Gov. Stitt press conference about June 25 Medicaid audit findings

Below is the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s statement regarding Gov. Stitt’s press conference today about the Medicaid audit he ordered nearly 16 months ago: 

“The Oklahoma Health Care Authority provides quality care, delivered efficiently, to hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. The data presented during the briefing doesn’t immediately appear to align with findings from previous state and federal audits, which occur frequently and rigorously. It was unclear what the purpose of today’s press conference was other than misdirection for Oklahoma voters as they head to the polls to decide SQ 802. Gov. Stitt did not present a clear path on how to address issues from the audit findings. The lack of clarity about a plan to address the findings — combined with the governor’s ongoing silence about the future of his SoonerCare 2.0 proposal — signal that lawmakers and elected officials continue to lack a deliverable vision for health care in Oklahoma. This further underscores that SQ 802 is the best path forward to make sure Oklahomans get the health care they urgently need.” 
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Oklahoma’s Medicaid program has been nationally recognized for delivering quality health care with an efficiency that exceeds the national average. Audits findings, when used properly, can be used to identify where additional efficiencies can be achieved. That said, repeated federal and state audits over the years have demonstrated OHCA’s reputation as a national leader in efficient program administration. 

A key measure of program effectiveness is the Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM), which measures Medicaid and CHIP payments that did not meet statutory, regulatory or administrative requirements. (Note: It does not indicate a “fraud rate.”) SoonerCare’s most recent PERM rate was 3.82 percent, well below the national average of 5.7 percent. 

State Medicaid programs, including SoonerCare, are frequently and rigorously audited by federal and state administrators. If those comprehensive auditing systems had turned up something the agencies deemed significant, those findings would have been reported long before today. 

Officials should remain laser focused on ensuring that eligible Oklahomans are able to get the health care they need rather than fighting through burdensome layers of bureaucracy. 
Missing from this calculus is addressing the large number of Oklahomans who are eligible for health care coverage but aren’t being served. In 2016, just 57.1 percent of eligible parents were receiving benefits in Oklahoma, compared to 79.9 percent of eligible parents nationwide.
For a governor who routinely champions government transparency, it is incongruous that today’s media briefing was held off-camera with only the Q&A broadcast by the state. Doing so makes it very difficult for advocates and watchdogs to engage with their government.   
Health care advocates also are interested to know where the governor stands on his SoonerCare 2.0 proposal, which was forced through a public comment period in the days immediately after he declared Oklahoma’s pandemic-related state of emergency. His proposal was supposed to take effect on July 1, but was pushed back when he vetoed its funding mechanism. Both lawmakers and the public haven’t heard him talk about his plans since then.
Finally, the governor requested this audit nearly 16 months ago. Releasing these findings just five days before the SQ 802 election smacks of a political ploy to distract voters as they head to the polls on Tuesday. Instead of making good on a promise to deliver his health care plan, he continues playing politics with the health and well-being of more than 200,000 Oklahomans who would be eligible for health care coverage if SQ 802 passes. Again, these actions underscore the need for SQ 802 as the best path forward to make sure Oklahomans get the health care they urgently need.


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

One thought on “Statement: Gov. Stitt press conference about June 25 Medicaid audit findings

  1. Thank you, Mr. Hamby, for this well written summary. I have worked quietly behind the scenes in Oklahoma nonprofits since 1975. I continue to be heartbroken by the knuckle dragging politicians who just do not get it. There is an army of highly motivated and well informed advocates in this state who have worked tirelessly on this issue for years. It just takes the minimal effort of a governor like Stitt to operate like a sweeping locust and do so much harm and prevent a lot of good. It is nothing less than evil.

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