The Norman Transcript

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January 13, 2013

Looking for new options

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Cline said he envisions a program in which both providers and consumers are given incentives to improve health outcomes and keep costs low.

“We are currently putting billions of federal and state money into our (health care) system,” Cline said. “The question is are we getting the most bang for our buck. Our current system pays for the more tests you run, the more you get paid. There is very little in our system that actually aligns payment with improved health and improved health outcomes.

“Many people believe our system should be entitled a sick-care system instead of a health care system. We’re not structured to promote wellness.”

Cline said he anticipates developing a system unique to Oklahoma and then seeking a federal waiver that would allow federal money to help fund the program.

Health experts agree that any such proposal developed by Oklahoma would require an infusion of federal funds.

“We are supportive of Oklahoma pursuing an Oklahoma plan, but we are utterly convinced that any Oklahoma plan ... is still going to be a partnership of both the federal government, state government and, we think, the private side,” said Craig Davis, executive director of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, which lobbied hard for Fallin to support the Medicaid expansion. “We still need to impress upon our legislative leaders the important role that federal funding plays in providing funding to hospitals to provide care for those who are uninsured or underinsured. That’s just a simple fact.”

Most health experts point to Insure Oklahoma as an ideal program for providing health coverage to more uninsured Oklahomans. Insure Oklahoma, which targets working adults earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, is a partnership in which the health insurance premium costs are shared between the state (60 percent), the employer (25 percent) and the employee (15 percent). The state’s share is funded with tobacco tax revenues and matching federal dollars.

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