The full State Senate gave final approval Tuesday to legislation that will provide access to quality health care for more of Oklahoma’s uninsured children. Senate Bill 424 now heads to the Oklahoma House of Representatives where passage will send it to Governor Brad Henry for his signature.
It is a major part of the 2007 Legislative Agendas of Senate Democrats and the governor. It passed by a wide 41-7 bipartisan margin Tuesday.
Named the “All Kids Act,” the measure will increase the number of children eligible to receive Medicaid benefits in the state by closing the gap between those children presently receiving Medicaid benefits and those covered under private insurance held by their parents.
According to a recent New York Times poll, the majority of Americans (55 percent) believe ensuring healthcare for all should be lawmakers top priority.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan credited Senators Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, and Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, for winning passage of the measure.
“By far the largest group among the uninsured in our state are children who honestly fall though the cracks. Their parents don’t make enough to afford health insurance but make too much to be eligible for Medicaid. This legislation will provide a bridge, giving these children access to quality health care and allow them to lead healthy, productive lives,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, said.
The “All Kids Act” would increase Medicaid eligibility for children from 185 percent of the poverty level to 300 percent – the maximum allowed by the federal government. That will enable the state’s Medicaid program to provide coverage for as many as 42,000 additional children.
Currently in Oklahoma, children whose parents make $37,000 or less a year are eligible for Medicaid. Senate Bill 424 would increase that income ceiling to $60,000 a year. State costs to provide the additional coverage are estimated at $8 million, allowing the state to draw down nearly $30 million in federal matching funds. The program will be funded by revenue from the state’s tobacco tax, which was increased by voters in 2004.