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May 16, 2013

Medicaid standoff a disservice

NORMAN — Does anyone else see the massive irony in Gov. Mary Fallin’s latest attack on the Obama administration? She accused the president of not keeping his word and of “actively” seeking to toss 30,000 Oklahomans off a state-subsidized health insurance program, when she has had it in her power to provide health insurance for an estimated 180,000 residents by next year.

The Insure Oklahoma program really is in jeopardy, and a consultant’s report says another solution probably can’t be up and running until 2015.

So, Fallin’s refusal to go along with any Affordable Care Act reforms means something like 200,000 Oklahomans might have to do without health insurance until 2015.

The latest flare-up occurred after a federal official wrote to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, saying that the Insure Oklahoma program could not be extended in its existing form past this year.

Insure Oklahoma provides coverage for low-income Oklahomans through the private market. But it has a cap on enrollment. The letter from Cindy Mann, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that such an enrollment cap “will not be approved” under federal requirements.

That prompted Fallin to pounce on the feds. But if Fallin had accepted the Medicaid expansion element, all of those Oklahomans plus about 150,000 others would be getting health insurance sooner rather than later.

— Tulsa World

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