Okla. Congress Fails to Support Insure Oklahoma Health Program
Lawmakers ended the session without acting on Fallin’s request to approve a measure that would provide health insurance for nearly 9,000 low-income Oklahomans who are set to lose their insurance at the end of this year.
Fallin proposed redirecting $50 million in state tobacco taxes to the Insure Oklahoma program, continuing it as a smaller program run with only state funds.
Several weeks ago, The federal government denied Oklahoma’s request for a waiver that would extend the program.
Insure Oklahoma is expected to lose federal funding Dec. 31. Sen. Kim David expressed concerns over the loss of federal funds in Senate Bill 700.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon, who earlier said he didn’t believe providing health insurance was a proper or efficient function of government, didn’t name any House members to serve on a conference committee. As a result, the measure stalled.
The House voted 45-20 to adopt House Concurrent Resolution 1023, which limits the continuation and expansion of Insure Oklahoma if the program is to continue, but The Senate had already adjourned by the time the House took action. Had the Senate approved it, the measure would just be an indication of legislative intent.
Fallin and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers Insure Oklahoma, are working on a plan to provide health coverage to 200,000 uninsured, working-class Oklahomans without expanding Medicaid. A consulting firm is to release its findings within the next few months.
Fallin has asked White House officials to reconsider the decision to stop funding of the Insure Oklahoma program, which subsidizes private health insurance for 30,000 working class Oklahomans.
Alternate Medicaid funding bill sidelined for For the rest of the session
Senate Bill 640 – which seeks to bring Affordable Health Care Act Medicaid federal money to the state without objectionable federal rules – was not considered by the Oklahoma Legislature this year.
The bill remained in conference committee when the Legislature adjourned for the year and could be reconsidered next year, or a new bill could be drafted.
The bill would authorize the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to seek an agreement with federal officials to bring Medicaid funding from the Affordable Healthcare Act into the state only different than what is outlined in the federal health care law.
Rather than allowing poor Oklahomans to enroll in the program as an entitlement, it would require they be working, in school or fit into one of a few narrowly defined exceptions.
The plan would also include funds from state tobacco tax revenue and other funds to subsidize insurance for Oklahoma’s working poor.