Thousands of Oklahomans who have access to health care through Insure Oklahoma will lose that coverage at the end of 2013. Two state lawmakers say that deadline means the Legislature can’t wait until the 2014 session to address the issue. The state was notified in May that federal funding for Insure Oklahoma would end as of December 31, 2013, unless changes were made to the program as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Doug Cox, M.D., R-Grove, said the pending loss of insurance coverage for 30,000 Oklahomans should be addressed in a special session.
Crain, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, remains opposed to expanding Medicaid, a stance other states have taken. He said legislators should look at what those states are doing as well as other recommendations contained in the recently released Leavitt report to find an Oklahoma solution for providing access to health care.
“We know that having a program to help more Oklahomans have access to health care is something the people of this state supported, and we know it has helped 30,000 of our citizens,” Crain said “But if we are going to develop and approve an alternative Oklahoma plan to continue to provide this access, we need to do it before December 31, 2013.”
Crain and Cox co-authored Senate Bill 640 during the 2013 session to provide a way to make sure those being served by Insure Oklahoma would continue to have access to health care, but the bill was not acted on by the end of the session.
“Legislators work for the people of Oklahoma. The citizens mandated our state to offer health care access to low-income, working Oklahomans back in 2004. Not only did they support this program, but they also supported increasing tobacco taxes to pay for it,” said Cox, Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on Health and Social Services. “We need to obey the will of the people and develop a state plan to provide for health care access after we lose Insure Oklahoma.”