Honoring 100 for the 100th: Mike Fogarty

Mike Fogarty’s social work career began in 1971 at OKDHS as a caseworker in Pottawatomie County, and later as a counselor at Girls Town Juvenile Treatment Center. He was granted a scholarship by DHS and earned his MSW degree at the University of Oklahoma in 1974. He credits these early direct service experiences and graduate education as the foundation of his forty-two-year career. Mike later held a number of DHS positions involving policy development and agency organization and management, including DHS Deputy Director and Administrator of Medical Services. Mike’s career experience was broadened to include national public policy development while serving as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator David Boren. Mike also gained a health care provider perspective as the owner and manager of several nursing facilities. Furthering his education, Mike completed a Juris Doctor degree at Oklahoma City University in 1984. Notwithstanding the law degree, Mike preferred the title “social worker with a law degree, a dangerous social worker!”

Mike retired from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in 2013 following fourteen years as the agency CEO. The focus of his career in social work is reflected in the OHCA agency vision: “Our vision is for Oklahomans to enjoy optimal health status through having access to quality health care regardless of their ability to pay.” To make that vision a reality has been Mike’s highest priority. From the earliest days of his career he found opportunity to work on behalf of those who lack access to healthcare. His advocacy found expression through direct services, through written publication, and participation in local and national policy action groups. He has spoken to anyone willing to listen, ranging from testimony before Congress to conversation with any interested individual or group.

He urged reform of federal and state Medicaid policies that severely limited coverage to only those people who fell within antiquated financial welfare categories. Over the last twenty-five years, changes in federal policy gave states the option of raising income standards and adding additional, although narrowly defined, qualifying categories. Oklahoma raised income standards and, by 2008, extended SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) coverage to include first time pregnant women, severely disabled children living at home, victims of breast or cervical cancer, family planning for adult men and women, and prenatal care for unborn children without regard to the mother’s citizenship status. Most notably, OHCA also received federal authorization to create Insure Oklahoma, offering Medicaid funded employer group and individual health coverage for low income working Oklahomans without regard to unrelated welfare categories.

Mike considers participation in making quality health care accessible to more Oklahomans through SoonerCare and Insure Oklahoma to be the greatest opportunity of his career.

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