Two of the Oklahoma hospitals that primarily serve underprivileged communities are at risk of losing millions of dollars in Medicaid funding because they previously apportioned some of those federal dollars toward training physicians. The teaching hospitals associated with the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University redirected the money without first acquiring a required waiver, according to reporting by the journalism non-profit Oklahoma Watch.
In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) discovered that the Oklahoma facilities were drawing on federal matching funds for medical training despite not filing necessary paperwork to ensure their eligibility. The facilities evidently hadn’t sought to renew their waiver for almost 15 years at the time the oversight was discovered.
As a result of the infraction, CMS announced intention to freeze all payments to the hospitals. Oklahoma Watch estimates the penalty could cost the Oklahoma hospitals $115 million in the next fiscal year.
CMS has thus far rebuffed efforts to reinstate the funding, sending the Oklahoma state government into a scramble to make up the shortfall.
“We are working with our congressional delegation and the Trump administration to resolve the issue,” Michael McNutt, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, tells Oklahoma watch.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin ordered a special session of the state legislature to find money for the facilities, including an anticipated $30 million needed for the current fiscal year.
“It will have a terrible impact, especially when we have a shortage of rural physicians in the state,” said Ervin Yen, a state senator who is also a qualified anesthesiologist. “We need more physician graduates in this state, not less.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations