A federal appeals court panel has overturned a lower courts finding that Oklahomas Medicaid program underpaid physicians, but state officials said the decision wont alter subsequent reimbursement increases. In a 2001 class-action lawsuit, the Oklahoma chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an advocacy group and 13 Medicaid children and their parents contended that Oklahoma wasnt paying competitive rates for physicians and, as a result, Medicaid beneficiaries werent receiving equal access to quality care. A federal judge ruled against the state and in 2005 ordered the parties to resolve the dispute. Oklahoma subsequently increased its Medicaid physician payments by nearly $27 million, but the state said the increase was planned before the lawsuit. Earlier this week, a three-judge panel for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Denver, ruled that Oklahoma didnt violate payment standards and didnt underpay physicians. The panel also unanimously ruled that Medicaid law doesnt create a private right of action for plaintiffs. Howard Pallotta, general counsel for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, said the state was delighted with the ruling, but it would not affect agency operations. At deadline, attorneys for the plaintiffs couldnt be reached for comment. -- by Mark Taylor
Ruling reversed in Okla. doc-pay case
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