Source: David Blatt/The Journal Record
Two major stories about health coverage in Oklahoma made the news last week.
One was the announcement that the Obama administration has granted a second one-year extension for Insure Oklahoma, a Medicaid-funded health insurance program that provides coverage to some 18,500 low-income working-age Oklahomans and their families.
The other was the release of a study by the White House Council of Economic Advisors. It reported that some 123,000 uninsured low-income Oklahomans – more than six times as many people as are covered under Insure Oklahoma – could have health insurance by 2016 if the state accepts federal Medicaid funds.
For two years, Oklahoma’s stance on health insurance coverage has been a jumble of contradictions. We’ve fought hard to preserve Insure Oklahoma for a small number of low-income Oklahomans. But we’ve fought equally hard not to pursue options that would make coverage available to at least 100,000 additional working-age adults in similar circumstances.
The irony is that while Oklahoma picks up almost 40 percent of the cost under Insure Oklahoma, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost initially, and 90 percent from 2020 on, if we cover these Oklahomans and many more like them under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Extending coverage would improve Oklahomans’ health, reduce financial hardship, and create several thousand new jobs in Oklahoma.