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Oklahoma governor removes only physicians from medical board

September 7, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this May 17, 2021, file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt has removed the only two physicians from the board that oversees the state's Medicaid agency. Dr. Jean Hausheer says she and Dr. Laura Shamblin were both informed on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, that they were being removed from the governing board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this May 17, 2021, file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt has removed the only two physicians from the board that oversees the state's Medicaid agency. Dr. Jean Hausheer says she and Dr. Laura Shamblin were both informed on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, that they were being removed from the governing board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this May 17, 2021, file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt has removed the only two physicians from the board that oversees the state's Medicaid agency. Dr. Jean Hausheer says she and Dr. Laura Shamblin were both informed on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, that they were being removed from the governing board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt removed the only two physicians from the board that oversees the state’s Medicaid agency, just a week after the board voted 7-1 to delay implementing rules on Stitt’s plan to privatize some Medicaid services.

Dr. Jean Hausheer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that both she and Dr. Laura Shamblin, an Oklahoma City pediatrician, were informed on Saturday by a staffer in the governor’s office that they were being removed from the governing board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

Hausheer, an ophthalmologist from Lawton, said neither she nor Shamblin were told why they were being removed, and Stitt spokeswoman Carly Atchison didn’t immediately respond to questions about his decision.

“The governor has my cellphone number ... it is kind of odd that he didn’t contact me himself,” Hausheer said. “I’m going to presume it was because of our last board meeting.”

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Hausheer and Shamblin were among seven members of the board who voted last week to delay implementing rules on Stitt’s plan to outsource case management for some Medicaid recipients to private insurance companies. Stitt’s managed care proposal has faced bipartisan opposition in the Legislature and was ruled unconstitutional in June by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The Health Care Authority said in a statement that Stitt was replacing Hausheer and Shamblin with Susan Dell’Osso and Gino DeMarco.

Stitt’s decision was sharply criticized by Dr. George Monks, immediate past president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

“The Health Care Authority’s job is to oversee more than $2 billion taxpayer dollars and serve Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens, not rubber-stamp a governor’s political agenda,” Monks said in a statement. “Today, the governor demonstrated the politics are vastly more important than the health of Oklahomans as he eliminated two of the three female members and the only physicians from the OHCA Board of Directors.”

Atchison, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in a statement that Stitt welcomes Dell’Osso and DeMarco to the board and thanks Hausheer and Shamblin for their service.