The Norman Transcript


June 29, 2013

Consultant says state could save $400 million by expanding health coverage to low-income residents



The Leavitt proposal would require the state to seek approval to develop a demonstration program to provide coverage to an estimated 200,000 or more people who currently do not participate in either SoonerCare or Insure Oklahoma.

The proposal would rely on federal funds and tax credits to steer as many people as possible into health insurance plans obtained through the new federal health exchange that will take effect next year or through the Insure Oklahoma plan, if it still exists.

The model program probably could not take effect before 2015, the Leavitt group said. Because of that, the state would need temporary federal approval to continue Insure Oklahoma through 2014.

The Leavitt proposal would require the state to seek approval to develop a demonstration program using Insure Oklahoma as a model to provide coverage to an estimated 200,000 or more people who currently do not participate in either SoonerCare or Insure Oklahoma.

Besides making health insurance available to new enrollees, the Leavitt plan envisions that about 26,000 people currently participating in SoonerCare would shift into private insurance plans, Summers said.

Over 10 years, the number of new enrollees would range from 204,911 to 257,493, the firm projected. The total additional cost of the expanded coverage would range from $10.5 billion to $13.3 billion.

The bulk of the additional cost would be borne by the federal government. Leavitt Partners estimated the program would actually save the state money over 10 years after taking into account benefits that would accrue throughout state government.

Net savings to the state would range from $447 million to $486 million over 10 years, the firm projected.

“We believe there are some real opportunities for the state of Oklahoma here,” said Leavitt Partners Senior Advisor Michael Deily. “You have a chance to try out some really innovative ideas … at very little risk to the state.”

The firm estimated total benefits to the Oklahoma economy of $13.6 billion to $17.3 billion over 10 years. Those estimates include the indirect effects of the influx of additional federal spending in Oklahoma.

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