Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weekly Column: Insure Oklahoma Federal Funding To End

A successful state program for providing insurance coverage for the uninsured in our state will end January 1, 2014. Why? The implementation of the federal “Affordable Health Care Act” plan known by most people as ObamaCare will include the end of federal funding for the program.

As of August, the Insure Oklahoma program has 29,261 enrollees, according to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. ObamaCare called on states to expand Medicaid. There is a difference between Medicaid and Insure Oklahoma. Let me highlight the differences between the two programs.

Conservative think tanks and officials have long criticized Medicaid because it truly doesn't provide insurance coverage for the uninsured, but instead a complicated government bureaucratic program that pays health care providers too little and pushes individuals to use expensive emergency care when primary care is more appropriate. Insure Oklahoma on the other hand provides individuals with the opportunity to receive true insurance coverage. With lower administrative costs, the state program is also cheaper. I believe that anytime you can have a smaller and more efficient government it greatly benefits the individual. Smaller government at a state level is a much better alternative than federal bureaucracy.  

I am disappointed in the actions of President Barack Obama’s administration regarding the Insure Oklahoma plan and would like to see the state legislature step up with a plan to save the program. I was disappointed to see that the special session we are currently serving in will not include addressing this problem. The legislature can only take up what issues the governor directs in her call for the session. This special session only deals with lawsuit reform per the governor’s request. Since we will not deal with the Insure Oklahoma problem before it expires on Jan. 1, 2014, I will work with lawmakers to address the issue on the back side of the problem when we convene for regular session in February. The governor and a handful of state lawmakers have suggested using monies received from the tobacco settlement to fund the program. I agree with this approach and others that would not cost taxpayers additional money, but would protect a local and highly successful program. We must do the right thing and protect our citizens at all costs.

As always, it is my pleasure to hear from you and if I may ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (405) 557-7349.

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