Facing a $1.3 billion budget hole, the Oklahoma House has passed legislation that would cut 111,000 Oklahomans from Medicaid.
House members on Wednesday passed the bill 65-34 mostly along partisan lines and sent it to the state Senate for action.
The measure would instruct the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to seek a federal waiver allowing the state to exclude from Medicaid all able-bodied adults under 65 with dependents.
Those affected would be adults with annual household income under $9,500 and at least one dependent child. Many would be single parents with preschool-aged children.
Opponents say the legislation is an attempt bridge the budget deficit on the backs of the poor. But the bill's author, Representative Doug Cox MD, says it does exactly what Medicaid was designed to do.
"The program was intended to help low income children; pregnant women; the aged; blind; disabled; low income senior citizens. The bill does not affect coverage for that whatsoever. It only eliminates the 111,000 able bodied adults," said Rep. Cox.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman says the bill would have a huge impact.
"What's going to happen is you're going to push 100,000 people on to the rolls of the uninsured. It's going to cost us $200 million in matching federal money, which would go along with $100 million that we'd lose then. So, we'd lose $300 million our of the hospital and health care world in Oklahoma, which is going to hurt the economy," said Inman.
Inman says the bill would also hurt low income families. But he says, he doubts it will get much traction in the Senate.