For the second week in a row, Democrats in the State House of Representatives have revealed their plan to bridge the state’s nearly $900-million budget deficit. Also for the second week in a row, Republican’s response was lukewarm.
Just a week ago, house Democrats proposed rolling back tax breaks and imposing certain taxes to raise more than a billion dollars. This week, they say the state can raise $900-million more by expanding the “Insure Oklahoma” program and accepting federal dollars.
“There are one on six of our state citizens who are uninsured in Oklahoma,” said House Minority Leader Scott Inman. “To put a face on that, that makes 655,000 citizens, about 90,000 young people have no health insurance.”
Inman said the state is facing a financial and healthcare crisis that can be solved by expanding Insure Oklahoma.
“By expanding Insure Oklahoma we could bring in nearly $900-million more to help balance our budget, to help provide health care access to the citizens in the state of Oklahoma.”
Inman said expanding Insure Oklahoma will also insure 175,000 more Oklahomans without putting them on Medicaid. He said that will cut the costs hospitals and taxpayers have to absorb when the uninsured are treated.
Inman said Democrats waited to release the plan until they saw what Washington did with the Affordable Care Act.
“We heard that the president of the united states had intent to gut, repeal and replace the affordable care act. Republicans in Washington tried to do that and failed in spectacular fashion.”
Republican leaders said they’re looking at expanding Insure Oklahoma, but it’s too soon to say whether that will happen.
“It is being discussed but there’s so much unknown uncertainty about what’s going to happen in Washington DC with everything especially in the area of healthcare that we really don’t know what we need to do as a state until we know what the federal government is going to do,” said Senator Mike Schulz (R) President Pro Tempore.
According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Insure Oklahoma was created to bridge the gap in health care coverage for low-income working adults.