HomeNewsCapitol Report Bill to remove 111,000 Oklahomans from Medicaid dies in Senate committee (Tulsa World)

By Barbara Hoberock 

OKLAHOMA CITY — A Senate panel killed a bill Monday that would have cut 111,000 Oklahomans, mostly women, from Medicaid.

House Bill 2665, by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, and Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, died in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The vote was three for the bill and five against it.

The bill had passed the Oklahoma House earlier this month.

It took aim at able-bodied adults, leaving children and the aged, blind and disabled covered.

Crain said he was surprised to learn that the program was serving able-bodied adults, and he said the measure was needed so the state could use its limited resources to ensure children, as well as the aged, blind and disabled adults, would receive services.

When questioned, he said he did not have a definition of “able-bodied adult.”

Voting for the measure were Crain and Sens. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, and Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City.

Voting against the measure were Sens. Kim David, R-Porter; Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City; A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie; Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City; and Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City.

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.

The state is experiencing a deepening revenue failure in the current fiscal year, and the bill was offered as a cost-savings measure in the midst of a financial situation in which the state expects to have $1.3 billion less in the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Yen, a doctor, said he voted for the measure to ensure Medicaid payment rates to providers did not drop further. He said he has heard from some physicians and others that if provider rates were cut further, they would quit seeing Medicaid patients.

Cox, a medical doctor, said he was disappointed the measure failed, but that he doesn’t plan to try to revive it.


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