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State funds for Oklahoma Medicaid expansion remain untouched

August 30, 2021 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The $164 million appropriated by the Oklahoma Legislature to pay for the state’s share of Medicaid expansion remains untouched in a state agency savings account, state legislators learned Monday.

Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Kevin Corbett told House and Senate members that the agency has used savings generated from the Medicaid expansion, along with enhanced federal COVID-19 relief funds for states, to pay for the expansion so far.

The savings were generated by shifting about 65,000 Oklahomans whose health care costs were previously funded through the state’s Insure Oklahoma plan or other sources to the expanded Medicaid population, where the federal government covers 90% of the costs.

Corbett told lawmakers an estimated 700 to 800 Oklahomans are qualifying each day for health coverage under Medicaid expansion, although he expects that number to slow down in the coming months. As of Monday, Corbett said about 170,000 people have qualified for Medicaid under the expansion. The Health Care Authority has projected about about 215,000 residents would qualify for expanded Medicaid, and Corbett says those projections are likely still accurate.

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After a decade of Republican resistance to expansion in Oklahoma, voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment last year to expand eligibility for benefits. Now, an individual who earns up to $17,796 annually, or $36,588 for a family of four, qualifies for Medicaid health care coverage. By contrast, the median income limit for parents in states that didn’t expand their program is about $8,905 for a family of three, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.