The Edmond Sun

September 6, 2013

Insure Oklahoma receives one-year reprieve


The Edmond Sun

EDMOND —  A one-year extension was granted by the Obama administration this week to the 30,000 low-income Oklahomans who rely on Insure Oklahoma for their health insurance.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced it would not continue Insure Oklahoma as part of the new federal health care options beginning in 2014. Gov. Mary Fallin and her administration lobbied for months to keep the program intact.

“This is a big win for Oklahoma and the tens of thousands of adults and children who currently buy health insurance through Insure Oklahoma,” Fallin said Friday. “These Oklahomans and their families can now rest easy knowing that they won’t lose their insurance on Jan. 1.”

Insure Oklahoma also serves about 4,600 small businesses, which rely on it for assistance in providing employer-sponsored insurance.

“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. “… 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.

“It does not make sense to undercut a program that has been working so well and helping so many Oklahomans and small businesses. I am very excited that the Obama Administration has reversed course and agreed to an extension.”

There will be no changes to the Insure Oklahoma employer-sponsored plan through Dec. 31, 2014, while there will be no changes in the low-income program until Jan. 1 when some co-pays and income level restrictions will change, according to the plan released by the governor’s office. Eligibility for that plan will change from 200 percent of the poverty level down to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Those who do not meet the new income standard will have to use the federal exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. There are about 5,300 individuals enrolled in the program who are at or below the 100 percent federal poverty level.

Fifth District Congressman James Lankford, R-Edmond, said the one-year extension was good news.

“For the last several months, Oklahoma patients and their families have waited and doubted the future of their coverage, thanks to Obamacare — a misguided law that seeks to eventually phase out state options. I applaud Gov. Fallin for her work with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to provide stable health options like Insure Oklahoma to many needy Oklahomans,” Lankford said.