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A campaign to expand government health insurance to more low income Oklahomans overcame its first legal hurdle Tuesday. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the effort can move forward just hours after hearing oral arguments.

Oklahoma is one of 14 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A group called Oklahomans Decide Healthcare hopes to change that by gathering enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2020.  

The summary, or “gist,” of the signature-gathering petition reads:

As of Jan. 1, hospitals have been required to post their prices. But the information is often difficult to understand, and hospitals say it doesn’t reflect what patients pay.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

For the first time ever, many Oklahoma hospitals are posting their prices online for every service or item they offer, creating a consumer menu.

Taylor Lott, of the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City, worked as a navigator assisting people with enrollment in the federal health-insurance marketplace. She says many people still need help because of confusion over the process.
Mashuir Rahaman / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma bucked expectations as enrollment on the federal health-care marketplace climbed to a record level for the upcoming year.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her final State of the State address at the Oklahoma Capitol on Feb. 6, 2018.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

FULL TRANSCRIPT: 

Gov. Mary Fallin: Thank you very much. Lieutenant Gov. Lamb, statewide elected officials, Speaker [Charles] McCall, President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, members of the court, honorable senators and representatives, cabinet members, statewide elected officials, and our tribal leaders that have joined us here today, and most of all, the great citizens of Oklahoma – welcome. It’s good-- to have you all here.

Lori Taylor reads the second letter she received from the state Department of Human Services informing her that her Medicaid waiver program will be funded temporarily.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

After her divorce, Lori Taylor wanted a home all her own. She moved back to Oklahoma to be near her aging parents, but she had a problem. For years her personal caregiver had been her now ex-husband.

“I have cerebral palsy and that’s brain damage that I incurred at birth, and it affects my motor skills. I’m confined to an electric wheelchair. I can stand but I can’t walk, I have very limited use of my arms,” Taylor says, sitting in the living room of her Norman apartment.

Microhospitals On The Horizon In Oklahoma City

Jul 21, 2017
An aerial map illustrates the location of a planned microhospital at 15103 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Courtesy image

Small hospitals with an emergency room and a handful of beds could be coming to Oklahoma City.

Cross Development Acquisitions, a Texas-based developer, is working to build a small-scale microhospital in northwest Oklahoma City.

The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo writes:

Shanna Burge begins a patient’s radiology test at Southern Plains Medical Group in Chickasha.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A provider in Chickasha wants to cut out the middle man when it comes to a discount health plan. The Southern Plains Medical Group has a new service where local employers pay a one-time fee per worker, and then a monthly fee.

James Martin/Flickr

A new government report says 44,129 Oklahomans have signed up for the first time or re-enrolled in health plans during the first month of the latest sign-up period under the Affordable Care Act.

The 50-state report released Tuesday is the first in the latest sign-up season under the federal health care law. It shows that more than 4 million people selected plans for the first time or re-enrolled.

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Oklahoma and five other states have filed legal papers with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of their challenge against the Affordable Care Act.

Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia are challenging billions of dollars in Internal Revenue Service subsidies being handed out as part of the implementation of the law. The case is scheduled for argument in March.

Oklahoma Watch

Starting this weekend, an estimated 446,000 low-to-middle-income Oklahomans can sign up for government-subsidized health insurance for 2015 through the online marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.

The 2015 open enrollment period begins Saturday, Nov. 15, and ends Sunday, Feb. 15. Federal officials and ACA advocates are encouraging people to complete their applications by Dec. 15 to avoid ensure their coverage begins on Jan. 1.

A recent national survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., showed that 89 percent of uninsured people were not aware that open enrollment begins this month.

“It’s an unfortunate continuation of a trend that’s been going on for quite a while now,” Kaiser Foundation Senior Fellow Karen Politz said in a briefing with reporters. “People really aren’t that familiar with what’s in the ACA, whether it will help them, and what the rules are.”

a stack of dollar bills with a stethoscope and bottle of pills
James Martin / Flickr

The Oklahoma Insurance Department's Medicare Assistance Program is hosting free statewide events to assist seniors during the Medicare open enrollment period that runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7.

During open enrollment, Medicare-eligible consumers can sign up for coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription drug plan, as well as change their options for the coming year.

jf cherry / Flickr.com

More than 69,000 Oklahomans have picked health plans on the new insurance markets created by the federal health overhaul.

The federal government said Thursday that 69,221 Oklahomans signed up for a plan between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 31.

Earlier enrollment numbers showed that only 32,882 Oklahomans had chosen a plan through March 1 — well below the Obama administration's goal of 84,000 enrollees in Oklahoma.

The new enrollment numbers released Thursday by the Obama administration said about 8 million Americans have picked a plan under the new federal health program.

As cities in the southern U.S. continue to recover from the ice and snow storm that brought life to a standstill in many places this week, stories are emerging about the incredible things some people did to help out others.

Let's start Friday with one of those tales.

Harmon-y Pediatric Clinic Set To Open

Dec 8, 2013
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic

The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic is seeing one of its projects come to fruition with the help of television star Mark Harmon. David Toahty, Chief Development officer for the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic credits the fund raising ability of Mark Harmon’s Celebrity Weekend for their new addition.

americanmajority.org

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine was the only member of Oklahoma's House delegation to vote against a bill that would allow insurance companies to sell individual coverage even if it falls short of standards required under the federal health care law.

The measure passed the Republican-controlled House Friday by a vote of 261-157.Oklahoma Republican U.S. Reps. Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, James Lankford and Markwayne Mullin all voted in favor of the legislation.

Omono / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials say 346 Oklahomans managed to enroll for health insurance last month by using the problem-filled federal website for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were even lower than recent estimates for the 36 states, including Oklahoma, that are using the federal insurance exchange.

New Data Reveals Widespread Financial Losses Among Small Oklahoma Hospitals

Oct 28, 2013
Bruce Mayhan, lab manager at Pauls Valley General Hospital, looks at a blood sample through a microscope in the hospital’s lab.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

A majority of small general hospitals in Oklahoma are losing money, and health care officials warn that some hospitals could close, be sold or cut services.

Federal financial reports for nearly every hospital in the state, obtained by Oklahoma Watch and analyzed and reported with the Tulsa World, show that in each year from 2009 to 2012, between half and three-fourths of general hospitals with fewer than 100 beds lost money. Most are in small cities or rural areas. More than half posted losses in multiple years.

Larger hospitals fared better. In each year during the four-year period, between 7 percent and 19 percent of general hospitals with 100 beds or more lost money.

stethscope on insurance forms with ballpoint pen
forwardstl / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 140 navigators have been hired in Oklahoma and are prepared to help people on Tuesday with questions about the federal marketplace. That is the first day that consumers can begin shopping, comparing and buying health insurance plans online or in person with the help of trained navigators and counselors.

Tuesday morning, the marketplace website noted that heavy traffic was making the page slow to load. The Oklahoma page took several minutes but eventually advanced to a log-in screen.

Debate is raging about Obamacare, and not just in Washington. Out here in Oklahoma we're grappling with implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Patients. Employers. Hospitals. Doctors. Insurers. All of us.

Here then are one doctor's predictions about what we will see in the short and medium term for what I see as the unfolding Obamacare era — the biggest domestic health expansion since the enactment of Medicare in 1965.

OversightAndReform / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma's five members of the U.S. House of Representatives each voted for a resolution to temporarily fund the federal government while delaying implementation of the federal health care act.

Republicans Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, James Lankford, Markwayne Mullin and Jim Bridenstine each voted for the proposal that passed the House on a 231-192 vote late Saturday.

The government is on the verge of a partial shutdown Tuesday and congressional Republicans vowed Sunday to keep using an otherwise routine government funding bill to try to attack what they call "Obamacare ."

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