Oklahoma hires consultant to review health care options

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority approved a $500,000 contract Thursday with a Utah consultant who is tasked with developing a health care alternative to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: January 10, 2013 at 11:23 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013

Fallin supports the decision to hire a consultant, her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said on Thursday.

“The governor supports pursuing Oklahoma-based solutions to making health care more accessible and affordable,” Weintz said, adding that spending $500,000 now to develop more affordable solutions is the right thing to do.

Exploring options

Leavitt Partners was founded in 2009 by former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. Half of the contract approved Thursday will be paid for with federal matching dollars, according to its stipulations.

The firm has been working with several other states that rejected Obamacare funding to develop an Internet-based health care exchange that would put Leavitt in charge of handling day-to-day operations and leave regulatory control in the hands of the states.

Expanding Insure Oklahoma — which provides matching funds to small businesses and their employees for the purpose of purchasing private insurance — is one of several options Leavitt will explore, Kimble said.

Leavitt also will look to see if the state can get a federal waiver to partially expand other health programs like SoonerCare, Oklahoma's version of Medicaid.

Kimble said the state potentially could expand its own programs and operate outside the boundaries of its current Medicaid contracts with a federal waiver.

Residents who are not included under any Medicaid expansion or additional alternative would be required to purchase insurance from a private provider, according to the stipulations of Obamacare.