hand placing Medicaid puzzle piece

An effort by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) to implement a managed care plan for the state’s Medicaid system was declared unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote on Tuesday. 

The high court ruled that the state’s Medicaid agency, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, did not have the legislative authority to create the new managed care program, SoonerSelect, under state law. The court also found that an amendment to expand the state’s Medicaid system, which was approved by voters last year, did not authorize a new managed care program.

“We find no express grant of legislative authority to create the SoonerSelect program, nor do we find the extant statutes implicitly authorize its creation,” the court wrote. 

Stitt, who pushed hard to implement managed care in an effort to reduce costs to the state’s Medicaid program, said in a statement that his office plans to work with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to determine the next steps in the process. 

He added that the ruling will “unnecessarily delay Oklahoma’s efforts to improve health outcomes through managed care.” 

Multiple provider groups that sued the state over the implementation of a managed care option for the state’s Medicaid program applauded the ruling. 

They had argued that the managed care plan would have jeopardized medical decisions between patients and their providers in favor of for-profit insurance companies.