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FOR RELEASE: September 14 , 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Trauma Care System Reimbursed for Uncompensated Care

In a historic gesture, Oklahoma hospitals, emergency medical service agencies and physicians who participate in providing trauma care services in the state were recently reimbursed at 100 percent for their eligible uncompensated trauma care claims.

Due largely to the increase in the tobacco tax and other funding sources, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) was able to distribute funds Aug. 31 totaling $15,519,366.58 from the Trauma Care Assistance Revolving Fund to qualifying hospitals, emergency medical services agencies and physicians for trauma care services delivered Jan. 1, 2005, through June 30, 2005. This is the first time the Trauma Fund has been able to reimburse dollar for dollar.

Of the total of funds distributed:

  • 71 hospitals received $13,516,924.09
  • 423 physicians received $1,061,379.73
  • 39 emergency medical service agencies received $941,062.76

This is the second distribution to physicians and the seventh distribution to hospitals and emergency medical services agencies since the Trauma Fund was established in 1999 to assist in the provision of trauma care services in the state. The fund was originally supported by a small fee assessed on driver licenses and boat and motor registrations; however, the funds generated by these fees were grossly inadequate to reimburse the claims made on the fund.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, deposits to the fund were supplemented with collections received from increased tobacco taxes approved by Oklahoma voters in November 2004. This funding was earmarked for the trauma system to help offset medical losses due to those uninsured and underinsured Oklahomans unable to pay for their trauma care costs. Fifty-five percent of the total dollars recently distributed from the fund were generated as a result of the increased tobacco tax.

Bishop + Associates, a national trauma consulting group now evaluating Oklahoma’s trauma care system, recently noted that based upon their survey of state trauma centers, Oklahoma’s trauma system and its novel approach to funding uncompensated claims has the potential to create a model trauma system for the rest of the country to follow.

Trauma is the leading cause of death for Oklahomans aged 1 to 44 years, and is the fifth leading cause of death overall in Oklahoma. Traumatic injuries cost the citizens of Oklahoma more years of productive life than all other diseases combined. In 2005, a total of 6,063 major trauma patients were reported to the Trauma Registry, and more than nine percent of these patients died. Motor vehicle crashes injured 1,952 Oklahomans, more than 32 percent of the total number of major trauma patients.

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