Press Release

August 30, 2018

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


Oklahoma Medicaid Director Selected For National Medicaid Leadership Institute  

Initiative will enhance the leadership capacity of Medicaid directors to deliver high-quality, cost-effective health care services.  

Becky Pasternik-Ikard, Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), is one of six Medicaid directors chosen to participate in the Medicaid Leadership Institute, a national initiative directed by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The program offers a unique opportunity for Medicaid directors from states across the U.S. to develop the skills necessary to successfully lead and improve their essential state programs and impact key health outcomes in an ever-changing policy and financing environment.  

“The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has long been recognized as one of the best Medicaid agencies in the nation. I am thrilled that CEO Pasternik-Ikard was chosen for this highly competitive leadership institute. Her participation with other stellar Medicaid directors will provide valuable insights as she continues to refine OHCA’s current programs and implement additional programs to improve care for the approximate 800,000 members served by OHCA,” said Tanya Case of Duncan, OHCA Board Member.   

Pasternik-Ikard was competitively selected to participate in the leadership development program along with five additional Medicaid directors: Idaho, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia.  

“Medicaid directors oversee the delivery of vital health care services for nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, including individuals who are most vulnerable to social and economic factors that negatively impact health” said Tara Oakman, PhD, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Our investment in leadership development for these state officials aims to strengthen state capacities to promote health equity, consumer-centered care, and cross-sector collaboration.”

The 2019 class of the Medicaid Leadership Institute marks the eighth group of Medicaid directors chosen for this prestigious executive training opportunity. With this next class, 47 directors in 35 states and the District of Columbia have participated in the program since 2009. It is directed by Mark Larson, vice president at CHCS, former Vermont Medicaid director and Class of 2014 MLI Fellow. 

“As the largest health care purchaser in most states, Medicaid directors are uniquely positioned to drive positive change across the health care system,” said Larson. “We are excited to support this year’s class of dedicated leaders from these six states in their efforts to maximize the quality and cost-effectiveness of state programs that are so critical to the well-being of millions of Americans.”  

During the 10-month-long program, fellows will gain skills in key areas, including fostering delivery system innovation, leading effective multi-sector collaboration, engaging key stakeholders, communicating the impact of their programs, and developing leaders of the future. For more information about the Medicaid Leadership Institute, visit



About the Oklahoma Health Care Authority   
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 815,069 Oklahomans enrolled in OHCA’s programs. The agency contracts with a network of 47,073 providers. For more information, visit or 

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at  

About the Center for Health Care Strategies   
The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is a nonprofit policy center committed to improving health care quality for low-income Americans. CHCS works with state and federal agencies, health plans, providers, and consumer groups to develop innovative programs that better serve people with complex and high-cost health care needs. Learn more at