Rural Oklahoma hospitals need reprieve from cuts

FREDERICK, Okla. (AP) -- Rural hospital administrators say they need a reprieve from years of consecutive cuts.

The Oklahoman reports that shrinking rural communities, Oklahoma's decision not to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates, have created a financial crisis for many of the state's smaller hospitals.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority oversees Oklahoma's Medicaid program. Since 2010, the authority has seen more than $446,000,000 in total Medicaid funding cuts.

As Oklahoma looks to fill a nearly $900 million budget hole, more cuts to Oklahoma Medicaid payments could be an option for providers in the next fiscal year.

Gov. Mary Fallin has proposed an 11.2 percent funding increase for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, targeted for Medicaid-related programs for the state's 2018 budget.

Since 2011, nine rural hospitals in the state have filed for bankruptcy and shutdown under financial strain.

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