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Medicaid

For 2nd Straight Year, Oklahoma Sees Increase In Number Of Uninsured

Sep 11, 2019
Visitors enter an emergency room at a rural Oklahoma hospital.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

For just the third time this decade, more Oklahomans went without health coverage in the most recent year compared with the year before. The drop was slight, but could factor into discussions of proposals to expand Medicaid or make other policy changes.

The question of whether to expand Medicaid and extend health insurance to thousands of Oklahomans promises to be a major topic over the next year.

The Healthcare Working Group, a bipartisan legislative committee charged with deciding whether to endorse Medicaid expansion or other policy moves, kicked off its work last week and is expected to unveil recommendations before next year’s session. Meanwhile, a signature-collecting drive is underway to put a state question on a 2020 ballot to accept expansion.

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In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss a last minute effort to repeal Oklahoma's newest gun law and more. 

Ryan LaCroix / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The federal government is seeking its slice of Oklahoma’s recent $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and the bill could be millions of dollars.

Cheaper, stripped-down health plans could soon see a resurgence in Oklahoma, potentially reducing the number of uninsured while leaving policyholders with unexpected medical bills.

Lawmakers adjourned the 2019 legislative session Thursday. StateImpact reporters followed a number of issues this year. They sit down to talk about the bills that made it to the end of the session and those that are in limbo.

Dick Pryor/KGOU

In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss the Democratic budget proposal for the coming year with House Minority Leader Emily Virgin. Virgin talks about why her caucus wants to reverse income tax cuts and expand Medicaid. 

Supporters of Medicaid expansion gather at the state Capitol on April 24, 2019.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

A couple of hundred people rallied in support of Medicaid expansion at the state capitol on April 24. The rally was organized by a coalition of groups called Together Oklahoma, with the goal of pressuring state lawmakers to pass a bill expanding Medicaid in some form this legislative session. Supporters were bused in from Tulsa, Norman, Ardmore, McAlester, and Lawton.

Lena Chatmon, 21, prepares a meal for her fiance and sister, who live with her in a house in north Tulsa. Chatmon said potential employers were turned off by her criminal record.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Like many other Oklahomans who have a criminal conviction, Lena Chatmon has struggled to rebuild her life since pleading guilty to motor vehicle-related and larceny charges in 2017.

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.

Dan Straughan, executive director of the Homeless Alliance stands in their day shelter in Oklahoma City during lunch. If the Medicaid work requirements are approved, it will mean more administrative costs for non-profits like his, which connects homeless
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

This year the Trump Administration said it would support states imposing “community engagement” requirements on Medicaid. That means, for the first time in the program’s history, states can require people to work a certain number of hours to be eligible for the government health program for low-income Americans.

About 82,000 children in Oklahoma lack health insurance, ranking the state 48th in the nation.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

After a decade of improvement, a new study suggests the rate of uninsured children is increasing in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Hospital Association estimates that half of rural to mid-sized hospitals in Oklahoma are in danger of shuttering.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

On Election Day, voters in three traditionally Republican-led states will decide whether or not to expand Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and people with disabilities.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson says if elected, he will make expanding Medicaid in the Sooner state a top priority.
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

On a hot Monday afternoon, Zora Sampson stands behind rows of chairs set up in the lobby of the hospital in Pauls Valley. Sampson supports the Democratic candidate for Governor Drew Edmondson — and turned up to hear his plan to help rural hospitals. 

The University of Oklahoma Medical Center is one of two safety-net hospitals in the state that is facing a loss of federal funds it says it needs to train future health care providers.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The federal government has clawed back another $32 million in Medicaid matching funds as part of an ongoing dispute over Oklahoma’s use of the money to help fund medical schools that treat Medicaid patients.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services notified state officials Aug. 31 that it disallowed a total of $64.2 million in federal matching funds for the 2017 calendar year. The total includes almost $33 million that was previously disallowed.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The state will have to find another way to help fund graduate medical education by July 2019 if it wants to use Medicaid matching funds after the federal government denied the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s latest bid to fix the program’s funding issues.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A dispute between Oklahoma and federal agencies over relatively high payments for hundreds of doctors who treat Medicaid patients is a key reason state taxpayers are on the hook for $140 million in emergency funds for the state’s two medical schools, records obtained by Oklahoma Watch show.

OU Medical Center is one of two safety-net hospitals in the state that could face cuts of $115 million a year from the federal government to train future health care providers.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

Updated to reflect the governor’s executive order for a special session.

Oklahoma’s two largest safety-net hospitals could lose $115 million a year because the state spent Medicaid dollars on training doctors for well over a decade apparently without approval, Oklahoma Watch has learned.

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.

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A state budget crunch could lead to less money for health care providers in Oklahoma.

 

Oklahoma’s state Medicaid agency may cut Medicaid reimbursements rates by up to 25 percent to make up for a state budget shortfall of almost $900 million. Preston Doerflinger, the state’s budget director, has asked the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to prepare for a possible 15 percent reduction in state appropriations. This means that companies providing services to Medicaid patients might not be fully reimbursed by the government. 

 

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