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May 8, 2013

Feds say Insure Oklahoma program must change



Two Republican legislators, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. Brian Crain, are working on such a plan. It would build off of Insure Oklahoma’s model to help insure 150,000 people with incomes under 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The draft bill also requires recipients to at least be looking for a job and pay modest copays.

But both of the bill’s sponsors on Wednesday told The Associated Press they have no hope of advancing the proposal without support from the governor and the Legislature. Fallin hasn’t publicly stated her position on the idea.

“I will tell you there’s starting to be some talk of doing an all-Oklahoma plan, not to accept any federal money, just use Oklahoma tax dollars,” Cox, an emergency room physician from Grove, said.

That idea would use $50 million from the state’s tobacco tax, he said, to help 12,000 people get insurance.

“Versus the Cox-Crain plan, which would use zero Oklahoma tax dollars for at least three years to cover 150,000 people,” Cox said. “At this point, unless the governor steps up, I think there’s very little chance.”

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz again declined to give Fallin’s position on the plan Wednesday. He said Insure Oklahoma would have continued working just fine if CMS had extended the waiver.

“Insure Oklahoma expiring is not the fault of the governor or the Oklahoma Legislature or anybody else except President Obama and his administration,” Weintz said. “They can say whatever else they want. They can sign it with a smiley face and send us flowers. The bottom line is the waiver that Insure Oklahoma needs to exist is being revoked.”

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