- Associated Press - Monday, April 22, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - It’s uncertain whether a measure proposing the use of Medicaid expansion funds to boost Oklahoma’s private insurance subsidy program will pass during this session, according to the bill’s sponsor.

Sen. Greg McCortney said lawmakers don’t want to vote on his sponsored legislation until the details of how it will be funded are agreed, The Oklahoman reported.

“We know how to pay for it with existing funds,” said McCortney. “The big question now is can it be ready for this session or will we have to wait until next year?”

McCortney added that unlike Medicaid, the final proposal will likely require participants to pay a small portion of their premium.

Sen. Julie Daniels said she worries the proposal could trigger tax hikes and ineffective outcomes.

“I absolutely recognize we have difficult issues in healthcare, but I’m reluctant to put trust in the federal government to fix them,” Daniels said.

Daniels noted that extending coverage to physically capable people could affect “the most vulnerable populations” Medicaid was intended to help.

“A waiver can be withdrawn, but once you introduce a program like this there’s no going back,” Daniels said. She noted that Oklahoma would be left to cover the expenses, which would mean “a hit to other core services.”

Improved supervision of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and state Department of Human Services, which manage the federal subsidies, are just as important as expanding coverage for Oklahoma residents living with disabilities, said Jeff Hughes, an executive director of the nonprofit Progressive Independence.

Hughes added people with disabilities use alternatives, like GoFundMe, in order to obtain basic necessities such as prosthetic devices and communication equipment because they “can’t get it through our health care system.”

“I’m pushing them to be doing a lot more than they do,” he said.

Hughes suggested that the state form an advisory board - comprised mostly of people with disabilities - to oversee the agencies. They would report to the governor or the Legislature.

Advocates of expanding Medicaid coverage have filed a petition with Oklahoma to address the issue in a statewide vote.


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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