Obamacare funding helps to keep Oklahoma programs up and running

Despite Gov. Mary Fallin's rejection last year of $54 million in federal health care allocations, $25.5 million in Affordable Care Act-related funding has been awarded to Oklahoma since the legislation passed in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: October 13, 2012 at 12:51 am •  Published: October 15, 2012

Despite Gov. Mary Fallin's rejection last year of $54 million in federal health care allocations, millions of dollars in Affordable Care Act funds have been awarded to state and local agencies, programs and organizations in Oklahoma.

In fact, more than $25.5 million in federal health care funding has been awarded to state agencies since the legislation passed in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fallin rejected funds that would have assisted with the development of a health care exchange for the state, but she has not stopped individual state agencies from applying for — and receiving — other types of funding through the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

Fallin thinks the act will lead to new taxes, unfunded mandates, increased bureaucracy and decreased patient choice, said Alex Weintz, her spokesman.

“However, the 900-plus page bill also includes language that reauthorizes or expands currently existing programs,” he said.

“In many cases, Governor Fallin does not have the authority or the desire to prohibit state agencies from applying for grants that continue to fund existing Oklahoma-run programs, expand or improve those programs, or otherwise assist in the mission of those agencies.”

Funds have been allocated to Oklahoma for preventive health programs, to build up the state's health care workforce and crack down on fraud, according to U.S. Department of Health.

Among the most significant grants and allocations awarded to state agencies:

$4 million for a program to help low-income individuals receive training in health care professions that face shortages.

$2.6 million to reduce health care fraud by identifying procedures by which long-term facilities can conduct background checks on prospective employees.

$14.4 million for programs that bring health professionals to the homes of at-risk families expecting or caring for infants and small children.

$1.8 million to help pregnant and parenting teens and women complete education, gain access to health care and other support services.

An additional $13.2 million was awarded to local government agencies and organizations in Oklahoma via a prevention fund developed by the federal legislation, including the Community Transformation Grant that was awarded to Oklahoma City-County Health Department to finance development of a ZIP code-based cardiovascular care program.

A half-million dollars was allocated to the state health department to support aging and disability resource centers.

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