OSMA accuses Oklahoma governor of 'stifling dissent' by removing 'the only physicians from the OHCA Board'
The Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) is expressing concern about Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) removal of the board's only physicians.
On Saturday, September 5, Stitt removed Jean Hausheer, M.D., and Laura Shamblin, M.D. from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board of Directors, according to KTUL. The seemingly strategic removal prompted a response from the OSMA.
Shortly after the physicians' removal, former OSMA president Dr. George Monks released a statement criticizing the decision which he described as the governor's "political agenda."
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.
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. They were the only members who have the experience and knowledge needed to lead this agency that is so essential in the delivery of healthcare to those in need.
These public servants should be applauded for speaking truth to power in their 7-1 vote to uphold the Legislature's stated intent to keep Oklahomans caring for Oklahomans. It is extremely disappointing—but sadly not surprising—that this administration would once again seek to stifle any dissent.
At the end of the day, the Legislature will still have the ultimate say, and we look forward to working with them to promote the best quality health care for our fellow Oklahomans.
Despite criticism, Stitt defended his decision. In a statement eleased on Tuesday, September 7, he wrote:
"Governor Stitt welcomes Susan Dell'Osso and Gino DeMarco to the board to help make Oklahoma a top ten state for health outcomes. Susan brings a wealth of experience in leadership as the former Chief Innovation Officer for Integris Health, numerous experiences across the state's different health systems, and a passion for serving Oklahoma communities. Gino Demarco has voluntarily left retirement to once again serve the state, bringing a unique entrepreneurial talent for innovation, growth, and development including his years as a senior executive at a Medicaid consulting and software company. The Governor is grateful for Dr. Hausheer and Dr. Shamblin's service to the state of Oklahoma."