News Release

February 25, 2014

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Jennie Melendez - (405) 522-7404

Oklahoma is National Model in the Growing Field of Genetics

Oklahoma’s work in the field of genetics has been leading the way for Medicaid agencies. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is unique among other states in that it’s the only state agency in the country to have a geneticist on-staff. Dr. Alison Adams Martinez, Ph.D., recently presented on Oklahoma’s approach and policies towards genetic testing for a national audience of medical directors.

The use of genetic testing and other molecular pathology (MolPath) services are on the rise, with applications ranging from diagnostics to personalized medicine. While these technologies promise exciting new improvements in patient care, most tests do not require FDA approval, and their impact on outcomes may not be supported by solid evidence. If not monitored, novel technologies could lead to costly and potentially wasteful spending by Medicaid agencies.

“Part of our role at the Health Care Authority is to make sure that our members have access to the most clinically beneficial technologies, and we are trying to be thorough and thoughtful in evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of new genetic tests,” said Martinez.

Martinez joined the Medical Professional Services unit of the OHCA in 2012. In her role as geneticist, Martinez reviews and develops recommendations for coverage of genetic testing and responds to inquiries from SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) providers regarding these new technologies.
Martinez’s webinar was the February Open Mic of the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) and covered topics from coverage criteria to the key challenges faced by OHCA’s genetic testing program.

“Oklahoma is always looking to share our perspective on genetic testing and promote a nationwide free exchange of ideas on this topic,” said Martinez.

For more information on the role of genetics at OHCA, visit: www.okhca.org/gt.

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