State Could Lose Up to $26 Million in Aid / for Mental Retardation

Article excerpt

Oklahoma remains threatened with the loss of up to $26 million in federal funds going to its institutions for the mentally retarded, offic ials disclosed Tuesday.

Michael Fogarty, director for medical services for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, described the threat of a loss of Medicaid funds for state schools at Enid and Pauls Valley as ""very, extremely serious.''

Fogarty, citing a letter by Department of Human Services Director Robert Fulton to federal officials, said the threanted loss comes ""despite the best efforts of the state and this agency to make significant improvements in the care of the mentally retarded.''

He accused federal officials of being ""arbitrary and unreasonable'' and undermining progress the state has made to improve mentally retarded care.

In a letter to the regional administrator of the federal Department of Health and Human Services in Dallas, Fulton disagreed with deficiency citations of a recent survey of state schools at Enid and Pauls Valley.

Fulton said federal officials are applying new interpretations to compliance criteria.

He cited several areas where the state had made dramatic improvement in the care of the mentally retarded.

For instance, he said the state's original plan called for adding 216 staff and professional positions, but the agency had increased that figure to 447. …