Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OHCA May Postpone Medicaid Cuts

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OHCA May Postpone Medicaid Cuts

Article excerpt

The head of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority will recommend that the agency postpone Medicaid eligibility reductions that would cut 79,700 people from Medicaid rolls after talks with state lawmakers, according to a release issued late Thursday.

Mike Fogarty, chief executive officer of the OHCA, will recommend that the agency's board of directors delay eligibility reductions until March 1.

The announcement came in apparent response to pressure from state lawmakers and a lawsuit filed by a Tulsa advocacy group.

A release issued by the agency said the delay is supported by President Pro Tempore of the Senate Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore, and Speaker of the House Larry Adair, D-Stilwell.

The action is the result of recent discussions between OHCA officials and legislative leaders, including Sen. Angela Monson, D- Oklahoma City; Sen. Ben Robinson, D-Muskogee; and Rep. Bill Mitchell, D-Lindsay.

Due to lower-than-expected tax revenue collections, all state agencies have been forced to cut budgets. At the OHCA, officials had to reduce the agency's budget by $17.6 million in state dollars. (Because state and federal matching dollars fund the agency, the total reduction was close to $60 million.)

Those cuts included reduced eligibility for several programs. The OHCA board voted to reduce coverage for children ages 1 through 5, allowing only children in families earning 133 percent of the federal poverty level to receive Medicaid coverage beginning Nov. 1.

In the same fashion, the board voted to reduce coverage for children ages 6 to 18 to 115 percent of the federal poverty level beginning Nov. 1.

Those changes slashed 62,000 children per year from Medicaid rolls and would save an estimated $8.4 million.

The board also voted to reduce coverage for individuals who are aged, blind or disabled from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 80 percent. That move cut another 9,800 people per year from Medicaid and would save an estimated $2.2 million.

The board also voted to eliminate the Medically Needy Program, saving an estimated $2.6 million through the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2003) and affecting about 8,300 people. …

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