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Health

Bill To Take 100,000 Off Medicaid Fails In Senate Committee

Oklahoma State Capitol
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Flickr Creative Commons
Oklahoma State Capitol

A bill that would have taken over 100,000 Oklahomans off Medicaid failed to pass through a Senate committee on Monday. House Bill 2665, written by state Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, and state Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, aimed to remove “able-bodied adults” from Medicaid but would have left the aged, blind, disabled and children with coverage.

During debate, Crain said the bill was all about tight funding during a time when the state faces a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, according to eCapitol's Tyler Talley:

“‘The money that's spent insuring those 111,000 individuals is money that's taken away from effective funding,’ Crain said. Examples Crain provided included Medicaid reimbursement for 500,000 children living in poverty and 200,000 aged, blind and disabled individuals. He added the bill would free funds up in preparation of a future Medicaid cut as well as a federal cut to education.”

There were also questions in committee about what Crain meant by “able-bodied adult” in the context of the bill, and he didn’t have a definitive answer, Talley writes:

"Something tells me there is a definition out there that works," Crain said. "What that definition is, I can't tell you."

Three committee members voted for the measure while five voted against it. State Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, voted against after voicing concerns about the result on the state’s mental health and foster care services, according to the Tulsa World's Barbara Hoberock:

Griffin said she was concerned the measure would have resulted in more children being placed in the child-welfare system because about 14,000 adults whose Medicaid would have been cut are receiving mental health treatment, and losing mental health services could lead to their being unable to take care of their children. David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said “senators did the right thing in voting down HB 2665, which would have kicked tens of thousands of the state’s lowest-income parents off Medicaid.” “This proposal would’ve simply added to the already-swollen ranks of the uninsured and to the uncompensated care burdens facing hospitals and other health-care providers,” he said.

A day after House Bill 2665 failed in committee, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced plans to cut Medicaid reimbursement rates by 25 percent for providers.

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