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Okla. House 'morning-after' pill vote delayed

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House delayed a vote Thursday on a bill that would prohibit the state's Medicaid authority from paying for emergency contraception coverage, after Speaker T.W. Shannon raised concerns that his proposal might jeopardize the program's federal funding.

Shannon's proposal would prevent the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which oversees the state's SoonerCare Medicaid program, from covering the use of the so-called "morning-after" pill. Many conservatives say they consider the pill's use to be an abortion and don't want the state supporting it.

Rep. David Derby of Owasso returned the bill to a calendar committee Thursday at Shannon's request. When it might come back up for a vote is unclear, because Derby told his colleagues the bill would be amended before being reassigned a voting date by the committee.

Shannon told reporters after the chamber adjourned for the weekend that he was concerned his bill might contradict federal Medicaid guidelines, which could put Oklahoma's federal funding for the program at risk.

"Essentially, if we want the fed-negotiated price for some prescription drugs, then we have to have an open formulary," Health Care Authority spokesman Carter Kimble said, referring to the list of medications covered by Medicaid. "If you have a closed formulary ... then you don't get federal rebate dollars towards those drugs."

SoonerCare also covers non-emergency contraception and provides for family planning.

Of SoonerCare's roughly 800,000 monthly enrollees, more than 700,000 are children, pregnant women or fall in the aged or disabled category, according to the Authority.

That leaves a relatively small number of adults who'd use contraception, Kimble said, and of them the group that uses non-emergency methods is "vastly, vastly larger" than the number that use emergency contraception. He said he didn't have specific numbers for either group immediately available.


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