By Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Health care professionals from across Oklahoma are visiting with their lawmakers and urging them to support a cigarette tax hike to help pay for a plan to rebalance the state’s Medicaid population and trigger an infusion of federal funding.

Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators roamed the halls Tuesday as part of the Oklahoma Hospital Association’s annual advocacy day.

State health officials are warning that the ongoing state budget crisis has pushed Oklahoma’s health care system to the verge of collapse. If Oklahoma’s budget for the Medicaid program is not increased, reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers could be slashed up to 25 percent.

Republican legislative leaders say they support the Medicaid rebalancing concept, but say there isn’t support for a proposed $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax hike to pay for it.

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