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January 23, 2013

Oklahoma legislative leaders spar over tax cut plan

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —

Democratic legislators also asked that Fallin approve an expansion of Medicaid, saying it would benefit 180,000 low-income residents.

“In rural areas, Medicaid is the backbone of the medical system,” Burrage said.

Fallin has rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid. She cited a study Wednesday that says it would cost the state $689 million between 2013 and 2022.

“An extension of that kind could force the state of Oklahoma to dramatically cut other services,” Fallin said. She proposed instead a $40 million increase for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to cover uninsured residents who aren’t enrolled in Medicaid despite being eligible.

Those people would be forced to enroll in Medicaid under the new federal health care plan or face tax penalties, she said.

“I am truly compassionate about those who do not have access to health care,” Fallin said. “I’m also very committed to improving the health of our citizens.”

The governor also proposed increased mental health services.

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