State Capitol
12:13 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Feds Plan To Continue Insure Oklahoma

Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez speaks in the Blue Room of the State Capitol while Gov. Mary Fallin and Secretary of Health and Human Services Terry Cline look on.
Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez speaks in the Blue Room of the State Capitol while Gov. Mary Fallin and Secretary of Health and Human Services Terry Cline look on.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

The federal government will let the state continue to operate its Insure Oklahoma program while it considers expanding Medicaid and taking a greater amount of federal money to insure the poor.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Friday morning that the waiver for Insure Oklahoma would be for one year.

“Insure Oklahoma has been around since 2005. It’s been a success for thousands of small businesses that have used it to help their employees purchase insurance,” Fallin said in an email. “It’s been a success for tens of thousands of families of modest means, who would be uninsured without it. It’s also been the beneficiary of popular support; the people of Oklahoma even voted on a 2004 ballot initiative to fund it through tobacco taxes.”

The program provides both individual and employer-sponsored health insurance plans to about 30,000 low-income Oklahomans.

Republican legislators favor Insure Oklahoma program over Medicaid expansion because individual recipients pay modest co-pays, with the rest of the premiums covered by employer payments in some cases, along with state and federal matching funds.

House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) said Democrats are relieved Fallin negotiated the one-year extension to provide affordable insurance and assistance to residents and small business owners in the state.

“We look forward to a permanent fix, however, beyond the one-year extension to give small businesses the financial peace of mind and stability of assisting their employees with affordable health insurance,” Inman said in a statement. “Our work to expand access to affordable health care for all Oklahomans continues.”