Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 30, 2013

Working poor falling through cracks

TAHLEQUAH — When tax credits for health insurance take effect in January, many Oklahomans will find themselves ineligible to participate – yet also unable to participate in SoonerCare, the state’s version of  Medicaid.

According to a report by Oklahoma Watch, of the 424,173 Oklahoma workers who have no insurance, 109,227 are considered the “working poor” – meaning they earn incomes below the poverty level, which places them in an ever-growing coverage crater.

Beginning next year, the federal government will stop participating financially in the Insure Oklahoma program, because it doesn’t comply with certain regulations in the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, said the Oklahoma Legislature has no plan to deal with the many people who stand to lose their insurance at the end of the year.

“Current Republican leadership refuses to take up any measure to help all of the Oklahomans who will lose their coverage,” said Brown. “As a small business owner myself, I know the value of the Insure Oklahoma program to the people of this state.”

Brown said Insure Oklahoma helps small businesses provide health insurance coverage for their employees.

The Employer Sponsored Insurance plan - ESI  - is available for people with household incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level (about $40,000 for a family of three). Individuals, or their parents, have to be employed by a small business with fewer than 50 employees. The program is jointly funded by 64 percent federal funds and 36 percent state funds.

“Currently, there are approximately 30,000 people in the Insure Oklahoma program,” said Brown.

“It is estimated 20,000 of them make above 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Under the Affordable Care Act, they will be eligible for tax credits to buy insurance on the health insurance exchange marketplace. But that leaves 10,000 people, currently covered by Insure Oklahoma, who make less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Absent a Medicaid expansion, or something similar, these people will fall into a void.”

The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to delay certain portions of the Affordable Care Act, including one requiring businesses with 50 employees or more to cover full-time employees with health insurance.

Former Sen. Jim Wilson, who now sits on the board of directors of NeoHealth Inc., said most business owners in Oklahoma have fewer than 50 employees.

“And the overwhelming majority of those with 50 or more employees already offer insurance,” said Wilson. “There was never a mandate on employers with fewer than 50 employees. Those employees, as well as the unlucky few who work for a company with more than 50 employees that doesn’t offer health insurance, can go to the insurance exchange and obtain subsidized premiums for probably no more than their share of an employer-sponsored plan.”

Wilson pointed out failure to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma benefits insurance companies, which, in his opinion have a disproportionate amount of influence over most politicians.

“Insurance companies don’t get any of the money under Medicaid expansion,” said Wilson. “The hospitals want Medicaid expansion.”

Wilson said the “Oklahoma Plan,” proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin and the Republican leadership ensures insurance companies get to play.

 

To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • gawf-johnny.jpg Nylon case doesn’t fool deputy; drug charges to be filed

    A Tahlequah man is jailed at the Cherokee County Detention Center after being arrested on drug possession charges.
    Deputy Michael Cates stopped Johnny Lee Gawf, 25, near Stick Ross Mountain Road and U.S. Highway 62. Gawf did not have his driver’s license and had a no-bond warrant for failure to pay.
    When Gawf was asked to step out of his vehicle, he allegedly reached into a pocket and pulled out a black nylon case, which he claimed to be a pocket knife. Gawf sat the case in the seat of the vehicle.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-CN-citizenship.jpg Dual citizenship still OK for tribes

    It’s been almost a year since the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma was forced to close its casino, leaving about 150 members without jobs.
    Right before the operations was shuttered, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker offered a plan to absorb UKB employees, scheduling three employment registration meetings in September 2013.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • TPS to hold graduation at Doc Wadley, after all

    A letter obtained by the Tahlequah Daily Press states that graduation exercises for the Tahlequah High School Class of 2014 will be held at Doc Wadley Stadium on May 23.
    Tahlequah Public Schools received an invitation from the city and Northeastern State University to hold the graduation ceremony inside the NSU multipurpose event center, and the district was initially agreeable. But the necessity of limiting invitations to 10 or 15 per student because of seating concerns drew heavy criticism from seniors and parents.

    April 22, 2014

  • Woman allegedly went after relative, then cop

    Deputies say a 22-year-old woman assaulted a family member Saturday, then attacked an officer when he tried to arrest her.
    Deputy Bryan Qualls was sent to investigate the domestic disturbance at Hilltop Circle. Donna Wilder, the alleged victim, told Qualls that the suspect, Kaylynn Sharp, was hiding in the garage, and had struck her in the face several times.

    April 22, 2014

  • jn-city-pool.jpg City of Tahlequah progressing on bond projects

    Just more than a year after the city began collecting a sales tax funds for use on capital improvements, crews continue to work toward finishing several of the projects.
    “We’re going to deliver everything we said we would,” Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols said Friday.
    The $21-million-plus bond issue approved in 2013 includes about $10 million worth of street projects. South Muskogee Avenue will eventually be widened into a five-lane stretch; East Fourth Street’s widening project is underway; and West Fourth will become, at least in part, a three-lane road.
    Projects will also focus on parts of North Grand, East Allen, Bluff, Crafton, and North Cedar.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall-dustin.jpg Four men charged with burglary

    Four local men are facing burglary and stolen-property charges in Cherokee County District Court.
    Prosecutors have charged the four men with second-degree burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs
Stocks