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Thousands of low-income Oklahomans will soon find themselves uninsured

by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: September 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: September 12, 2013
/articleid/3882104/1/pictures/2209300">Photo - Nico Gomez, OHCA CEO. Photo  by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Nico Gomez, OHCA CEO. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Fallin rejected expanded Medicaid funding from the federal government, saying the state's portion of expanded Medicaid under Obamacare would be too costly for the state.

She has also criticized the federal health exchange. The governor's office and the health care authority do not plan to provide education or assistance on the federal program beyond simply providing contact information.

“We're certainly in favor of letting them know what their options are and letting them know that they're not going to be left without any options,” said Alex Weintz, Fallin's spokesman. “But the governor would like to keep Insure Oklahoma unchanged, and it's not optimal that the federal government has demanded these people be dropped from a program that is already working, but that's why it's a negotiation.”

Insure Oklahoma has a cap of 35,000 participants and has never reached that limit. Once those 8,000 people are dropped, the program will insure roughly 21,000 Oklahomans.

Gomez estimates anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000 Oklahomans currently qualify for the program but make too much money to qualify for SoonerCare, Oklahoma's version of Medicaid. If and when the cap is reached, the health care authority has the option to either re-evaluate its finances and consider expanding the number of participants or creating a waiting list.

Starting next year, people will be required to pay an annual fee if they remain uninsured. The fee is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, with a $285 cap per family or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. Those fees will rise dramatically over the following two years.

by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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