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

Leslea Bennet-Webb, health department spokeswoman, said it's difficult to measure funding secured through the Affordable Care Act because some of the funding offset reduced federal grant funding for existing programs elsewhere.

She estimated the department's current fiscal year budget includes about $20 million in Affordable Care Act funds.

Some of the federal money was awarded during the tenure of former Gov. Brad Henry, including $415,000 in consumer assistance grants and a $1 million insurance rate review grant allocated to the state insurance department.

Kelly Collins, insurance department spokeswoman, said the former grants funded the hiring of two ombudsmen for its consumer assistance division, among other things. All but $20,000 of the rate review grant was returned to federal officials when John Doak took over as insurance commissioner in 2011, she said.

“Oklahomans have made it clear that we do not support the implementation of Obamacare in our state,” Doak wrote in a letter to the U.S. Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight in May.

“We are most able to address the health insurance needs of our citizens by using our own state resources.”

OKC mayor's view

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, a Republican who co-chairs the Wellness Now Coalition, said he is happy to accept the federal money because were it not spent locally, it would be spent in another state.

The Wellness Now Coalition, comprised of city and county government representatives as well as a long list of community health stakeholders, developed the programs supported by the Community Transformation Grant and helped direct how the funds would be spent.

“Congress should spend less money, but if they've decided to spend the money, it's my job to make sure the citizens of Oklahoma City get their share because it's their tax money, too,” Cornett said. “I don't think the city has ever rejected money out of a philosophical argument.”

And it's not the only time local government groups have been inspired to accept federal money doled out by the Obama administration: Federal stimulus dollars were accepted and spent by Oklahoma City in recent years on several high-profile infrastructure projects, including resurfacing roads and improvements at the airport, he said.


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    These Are 32 Of The Most Stunning Submissions In This Year's World Photography Awards
  2. 2
    Vikings Legend Reacts To Adrian Peterson Return: 'Surprise Surprise'
  3. 3
    Ray Rice appeal will include request that Goodell recuse himself from case
  4. 4
    Robin Thicke Admits Drug Abuse, Lying to Media in Wild 'Blurred Lines' Deposition
  5. 5
    Radisson suspends its sponsorship from Vikings due to Adrian Peterson
+ show more