Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

December 13, 2012

Clock ticking on health care issue

TAHLEQUAH — The clock is ticking for governors of states who have rejected the establishment online state health insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extended the deadline from Nov. 16 to Dec. 14, allowing states the additional time to inform the administration whether they intend to set up their own exchanges, or leave it up to the federal government.

In a column released Dec. 3, Gov. Mary Fallin announced she would not implement either component.

“After careful consideration, I decided last month that Oklahoma would not pursue the creation of its own health insurance exchange,” wrote Fallin. “As I said at the time, any exchange that is PPACA-compliant will necessarily be ‘state-run’ in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement.”

But Fallin has faced opposition to her decision from a number of groups, including the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, according to a report by the Associated Press. The organization has been lobbying Fallin to support the exchange, as members believe it would expand jobs in the health care field - one of the two largest employment sectors in Tulsa.

What may have a larger local effect, though, is Oklahoma’s failure to expand Medicaid. According to PPACA, starting Jan. 1, 2014, Medicaid coverage will be extended to non-elderly people with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the entity responsible for administering Medicaid in Oklahoma in 2009 about 658,000, or 18 percent, of the state’s residents were uninsured. Of those, 130,000 were children and 528,000 are adults.

Under PPACA, adults under age 65 making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will now qualify for Medicaid, as will any adult up to age 26 who was in foster care at age 18.

Former Sen. Jim Wilson was recently appointed to the board of directors of NeoHealth, a community health care agency that provides services on a sliding scale to many low-income families in the area. Wilson said Fallin is under a lot of pressure to accept Medicaid expansion, which would be a boon to this area.

“We have 17,000 Medicaid-eligible folks right here who don’t have any health care,” said Wilson. “If Medicaid is expanded, it would be huge for NeoHealth, as it gets an additional stipend from Medicaid to care for the uninsured. It will be a big deal.”

In her column, Fallin said she has rejected Medicaid expansion, citing it as “unaffordable.”

“[It would cost] the state of Oklahoma $475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years,” wrote Fallin. “If would also have furthered Oklahoma’s reliance on federal money that may or may not have been available in the future, given the dire fiscal problems facing the federal government.”

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has estimated that, in 2016, when the state is set to take over 10 percent of the PPACA costs, the amount will be $26.7 million, which would increase to $32.6 million in 2018, $38.8 million in 2019, and $56.6 million in 2020.

Tahlequah City Hospital CEO Brian Woodliff said the local medical community supports Medicaid expansion.

“A Medicaid expansion would provide an additional 180,000 Oklahomans with medical coverage,” said Woodliff. “For our community, that could mean coverage for an additional 20 percent of the people. We understand that this program will cost the state $56 million, but our hospital alone is spending $750,000 a month in uncompensated care. Like TCH, hospitals around the state are providing millions in charity care. We want Oklahomans to have medical coverage, and we encourage Oklahoma’s legislators to support the ACA’s Medicaid expansion program.”

Wilson said the revenue in payroll and subsequent taxes generated by Medicaid expansion would more than compensate for the cost.

“Medicaid expansion would create 24,000 jobs, generate $570 million in payroll, and $76 million of that would come back to us in taxes, which mitigates any cost to the state,” said Wilson. “Even if we pay 90 percent [of the cost of the program] we’ll still make money. Some people say that federal money is still taxpayer money, and that’s true, but I’d rather it come here than go to Mississippi or other states, which it will if we don’t accept it.”

Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, who is also a physician, agreed with Wilson.

“I feel [$56.6 million] is a number we can afford,” Cox said in an earlier Daily Press report. “Some studies, including those by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute, estimate there would be an additional 16,397 jobs created in Oklahoma, which would generate $495 million in payroll dollars. That would generate $52 million in state income from personal tax revenue. That would offset the cost of the program.”

NeoHealth Board of Directors Bobbie Davis feels confident that whatever happens, the agency will continue to provide quality care. Davis estimates about 60 percent of the provider’s patients use either Medicare of Medicaid.

“Obviously, there is a lot of work yet to do in determining what Neo will have to do in light of the new health care regulations that are coming,” said Davis. “We feel confident that we will be able to continue to meet our mission statement and provide quality health care, with quality providers, to the residents of our area.”

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
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 New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Stocks