Press Release

October 31, 2018

OHCA Contact: Jo Stainsby - (405) 522-7474; Katelynn Burns - (405) 522-7266

Reach Out and Read coming to more SoonerCare members

Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) in partnership with the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, is working to increase the number of well-child visits and developmental screenings for SoonerCare members by expanding the use of the Reach Out and Read program.    

Reach Out and Read Oklahoma’s mission is to give children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. The program advocates that the best opportunity to influence a child's future is in the first five years of life, a critical window of rapid brain development that does not occur at any other time. Children who hear fewer words during early childhood start school developmentally behind their peers and may never catch up.    

“We are excited to collaborate and expand the scope of the Reach Out and Read program to more SoonerCare members as a means to improve access to well-child visits and developmental screenings. This is another way in which we are able to implement the OHCA mission by ensuring and improving quality in our members’ health care services,” said OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard.    

The initiative will recruit SoonerCare providers to participate in Reach Out and Read, provide training, and offer program support and assistance to improve the quality of the well-child visit. The effort will encourage developmental screenings during the well-child visit with free developmental screening tools for providers and training on how to use them.    

“I would like to applaud the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for being a national leader. We will be the first state to leverage federal funding in this way for Reach Out and Read, which is an evidence-based intervention in pediatrics focused around early literacy and parent child interaction. These funds will allow Reach Out and Read Oklahoma to expand and partner with primary care providers from across the state,” said Dr. Marny Dunlap, OU Children’s Physicians pediatrician. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with the OHCA and Reach Out and Read Oklahoma to help improve the lives of Oklahoma’s youngest children. Bringing books into the exam room and interacting with children and their families is the highlight of my day.”     

The 2017 SoonerCare Program Quality of Care report indicated that in 2016 only 56.5 percent of children ages three to six in the SoonerCare program received well-child visits as compared to the national average of 72.2 percent. Only 16.4 percent received a developmental screening during their first three years of life.      

The incorporation of Reach Out and Read into health care practices should improve both the quality of the child’s preventive health visit and developmental screening processes.     

OHCA used a Health Services Initiative (HSI) as a way to leverage its Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) administrative dollars to fund this effort. HSIs give states flexibility to use a portion of their CHIP administrative dollars to improve the health of low-income children through a range of different activities other than health insurance assistance. This is one of several HSIs through OHCA.     

If you are a provider and would like more information about this program, please contact Lori Lake at 405-669-1849 or Lori.lake@reachoutandread.org. 

 

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) administers two health programs for the state. The first is SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. SoonerCare works to improve the health of qualified Oklahomans by ensuring that medically necessary benefits and services are available. Qualifying Oklahomans include certain low-income children, seniors, the disabled, those being treated for breast or cervical cancer and those seeking family planning services. The second program OHCA operates is Insure Oklahoma, which assists qualifying adults and small business employees in obtaining health care coverage for themselves and their families. Currently, there are 821,781 Oklahomans enrolled in OHCA’s programs. The agency contracts with a network of 48,486 providers. For more information, visit www.okhca.org or www.insureoklahoma.org.