Obama denies extension of OK Medicaid program for working poor

FALLIN FIGHTS FEDS: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has asked President Obama to “keep his promises and reverse his decision to gut one of Oklahoma’s most successful health initiatives.”

 

By Patrick B. McGuigan | CapitolBeatOK

May 8, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Obama administration has denied Oklahoma’s request to extend Insure Oklahoma, a program of premium assistance benefitting the Sooner State’s working poor. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin in a letter Wednesday encouraged President Obama “to keep his promises and reverse his decision to gut one of Oklahoma’s most successful health initiatives.”

Cindy Mann, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Human Services, based in Baltimore, delivered the death sentence to the Oklahoma program — created in 2004 by a popular vote and fashioned by a bipartisan consensus — in a May 7 letter. The state got the letter Tuesday afternoon.

Referencing the Affordable Care Act, Mann wrote, “The new law will mean that an extension of the Insure Oklahoma program without any changes is not possible.”

In her letter, Mann contended the federal government is “committed to working with you on approaches that work for Oklahoma.” However, she continued, the SoonerCare Section 1115 demonstration includes enrollment caps, which “will not be approved.”

Mann suggested the program, which has provided access to the insurance market for thousands of low-income working Oklahomans, could be revised to include “products available in the individual and small business insurance market.” She wrote the federal agency “would welcome working with you … consistent with our guidance.”

Despite the agency’s refusal to approve extension of Insure Oklahoma, Mann wrote, “should the state decide to phase out the Insure Oklahoma program at the end of 2013, a phase out plan as provided for in paragraph 9 of your approved Special Terms and Conditions is due … by July 1, 2013.”

In a blunt reply to the letter from Mann, Fallin wrote Wednesday:

Insure Oklahoma is a program that has been providing affordable health insurance to approximately 30,000 low-income Oklahomans since 2005. It is exactly the kind of successful, state-based solution to health care needs that the federal government should be encouraging. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration seems intent on dismantling the program, as evidenced by the recent denial of Insure Oklahoma’s Medicaid waiver. As a result, Insure Oklahoma will cease to exist at the end of this year and 30,000 Oklahomans will lose their current health care plans.

“This is the latest bad news in the ongoing train wreck that is the Affordable Care Act. It is outrageous that President Obama is actively dismantling the successful health care programs established by states in order to force citizens onto Obamacare health insurance plans.

“The president promised the American people, ‘if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.’ He has not kept his word. Thirty thousand Oklahomans participating in Insure Oklahoma – and many more Americans across the country – are being forced off their health insurance plans.

“The president also promised the nation’s governors his administration would grant states the flexibility to pursue state-based solutions rather than one-size-fits-all policies. Again, that has proven to be untrue, as Oklahoma and other states are now finding their programs and waivers under assault by the Obama Administration.”

Fallin concluded: “I encourage the president to keep his promises and reverse his decision to gut one of Oklahoma’s most successful health initiatives.”

Contact Patrick B. McGuigan, Oklahoma city bureau chief for the Watchdog.org network, at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.

The link to this article is:  http://watchdog.org/83688/obama-denies-extension-of-ok-medicaid-program-for-working-poor/

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