Oklahoma City State legislative leaders have announced an agreement to pass emergency funding to prevent pending cuts to health care programs for the elderly, disabled and children.
House Speaker Larry Adair and Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor said today that they plan to approve a $15.6 million supplemental appropriation for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority as quickly as possible. The OHCA was preparing to send out letters to 15,000 elderly and disabled health care recipients this Friday, informing them that their programs would soon be cut.
"The health of our citizens is of the utmost importance and we must not allow medical and prescription payments for our most needy Oklahomans to lapse," said Speaker Adair (D-Stilwell).
"We're facing a crisis situation in health care that demands immediate attention. We're going to do everything we can to ensure that children, senior citizens and disabled Oklahomans get the care that they need," said Senator Taylor (D-Claremore).
Without the emergency funding, the OHCA would have been forced to cut prescription drug programs for elderly and disabled citizens, nursing home assistance, dental and vision programs for senior citizens and health care services for children, among other things. In addition to heading off those reductions, the $15.6 million in emergency funding will make the OHCA eligible for additional federal matching dollars that can also be devoted to health care programs.
The full House plans to take up the supplemental appropriation legislation on Thursday. If it is approved, it will be forwarded to the Senate for consideration on Tuesday the earliest possible date allowed under constitutional guidelines that govern the passage of legislation.
The two legislative leaders said the announcement of their intentions should be enough to stop the OHCA from mailing benefit reduction letters to thousands of health care recipients on Friday.