FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Ray Carter, House Media
Capitol: (405) 557-7421
Contact: State Rep. Doug Cox
Capitol: (405) 557-7415
Cox Hails Passage of "All Kids" Program
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 25, 2007) - A new program that could increase health care coverage for Oklahoma children is headed to the governor's desk. "This is a great day for the children of Oklahoma," said state Rep. Doug Cox, a Grove physician who carried the legislation in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. "We are opening up access to healthcare for more hardworking families that struggle with the expense of health insurance premiums. "
This program is just one piece of a large puzzle to transform the health care system of our state and country." Senate Bill 424, by state Sen. Tom Adelson (D-Tulsa) and Cox (R-Grove), creates the "All Kids Act."
The bill would increase Medicaid eligibility for children from 185 percent of the poverty level to 300 percent (covering children in families with $38,200 to $62,000 annual income for a family of four). As many as 42,000 additional children could be provided insurance as a result. The program involves a public-private partnership where the state provides matching funds to families seeking health insurance. The state subsidies are provided on a sliding scale with the greatest state benefit weighted toward the lowest-income families.
Under the program, participating families would receive vouchers to purchase private health insurance. The state cost will be an estimated $8 million per year,allowing the state to draw down nearly $30 million in federal matching funds. The state's share will come from revenue generated by the state's tobacco tax, which was increased by voters in 2004.
Cox predicted the bill will have a positive ripple effectthroughout Oklahoma's health care system. "In addition to helping Oklahoma families, this legislation will improve the financial stability of state hospitals - especially those in rural areas - that serve a high percentage of uninsured patients," Cox said. "By reducing uncompensated care, we will also reduce the pass-along costs driving up everyone else's hospital bills."
Senate Bill 424 passed the state Senate 41-7 and cleared the Oklahoma House of Representatives 68-27. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Brad Henry.