Claremore Daily Progress

Top Stories

May 17, 2013

Fallin urges Okla. Legislature for health care fix

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Gov. Mary Fallin proposed a last-minute legislative change on Friday to the state's Insure Oklahoma program that would direct $50 million in state tobacco taxes to pay for more than 9,000 people who are expected to lose their health insurance under the program.

Insure Oklahoma currently uses federal Medicaid funding, state tobacco tax revenue and payments from workers and employers to provide health insurance to about 30,000 low-income Oklahomans, but the federal government notified Oklahoma last week that the program must change in order to qualify for federal funding. The program is expected to lose its federal funding on Dec. 31.

Fallin released a statement Friday urging lawmakers to redirect the $50 million so Insure Oklahoma could continue to operate as a "smaller, more targeted program run with state dollars only."

"I am asking the Legislature to send me a bill that would continue Insure Oklahoma as a state-funded program before they adjourn for the year," Fallin said. "Unless a bill is passed this year, 9,000 working, low-income Oklahomans will be stripped of their health insurance. That is not an outcome that any of us at the State Capitol should accept."

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said the rest of the 20,000 or so people currently enrolled in the Insure Oklahoma program likely would qualify for federal subsidies to purchase health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Messages left Friday for House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman were not immediately returned, but at least some legislators were skeptical of Fallin's proposal.

"She wants to use the $50 million in state taxpayer money, yet we passed up the opportunity to use 100 percent of federal match money. I don't think her plan makes fiscal sense to me," said Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, an emergency room physician.

Amid pressure from tea party activists and other conservative grassroots groups, Fallin last November rejected billions of dollars in federal funding for an expansion of Medicaid offered under the federal health care law. Approval would have extended health insurance coverage to nearly 200,000 uninsured Oklahoma residents, but Fallin said it would prove too costly for the state and the country.

Cox and Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, had developed an alternative proposal to expand the Insure Oklahoma program, Senate Bill 640, so that it might qualify for a federal waiver and continue to operate, but Fallin was hesitant to endorse that plan.

"She backed herself into an awful tight corner with her rhetoric. Senate Bill 640 would have given her a way out of that corner," Cox said. "Now she's chosen to go this route. I guess we just have different opinions on what we should do to be the best stewards of the taxpayer money."

Still, Cox said with two weeks remaining before the Legislature must adjourn, he said it's certainly possible for the Legislature to consider and pass a bill that would protect the 9,000 Insure Oklahoma recipients who would otherwise lose their insurance coverage.

"If anyone can do it, the power of the governor's support carries a lot of weight with the Legislature," Cox said.

 

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • Meth arrests Meth busts net 12 arrests

    Rogers County deputies arrested 12 individuals over the weekend who were allegedly involved in the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine near Foyil.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill to dedicate $600M for Okla. schools scheduled

    A bill designed to increase public school funding by $600 million annually is scheduled for a hearing on the floor of the Oklahoma Senate.

    April 23, 2014

  • Judge Post Judge Post disqualifies herself from DA’s cases

    District Judge Dynda Post has signed a court order removing herself from juvenile or other cases involving District Attorney Janice Steidley’s office because Steidley recently questioned the judge’s impartiality.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rogers County schools experience minimal test disruptions

    Rogers County school districts experienced minimal disruptions Tuesday during end-of-instruction (EOIs) exams. Administrators and teachers were not sure what to expect following the suspension of EOIs statewide on Monday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Construction bid awarded for King Rd. widening

    After some discussion, the Claremore City Council unanimously voted Monday night to award the bid for the widening and resurfacing of King Road to A&A Asphalt, Inc.

    April 23, 2014

  • Oklahoma high court reinstates tax panel's ruling

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court has reinstated a state Tax Commission ruling that rejected an out-of-state company's attempt to claim a tax break on capital gains for Oklahoma-based businesses.

    April 22, 2014

  • Senate passes bill to cut income taxes

    A House-backed plan to cut both the state’s individual and corporate income tax rates has passed the Oklahoma Senate, although a final agreement on a tax cut has yet to be reached.

    April 22, 2014

  • CASA Burrage award Oklahoma CASA Association recognizes Sen. Burrage

    The Oklahoma CASA Association recognized Sen. Sean Burrage for his dedication to Oklahoma’s children at their recent state conference in Norman.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • RCSO against DOC’s plans to move state prisoners out
    Rogers County Undersheriff Jon Sappington spoke with county commissioners Monday about his concerns with plans to remove state inmates from county jails.
     

    April 22, 2014

  • School board approves date for building bonds sale
    The Claremore Board of Education approved May 14 as the set date for the sale of district building bonds, issued in November 2007 for the construction of Catalayah Elementary, the new Claremore High School gymnasium, Lantow Field expansion and other district renovations.
     

    April 22, 2014