Senator Jeff Rabon stated today that the Oklahoma House of Representatives is grand-standing Oklahoma’s neediest and most vulnerable – our children who depend on Medicaid for their health coverage.
Yesterday the Senate passed a conference committee report to Senate Bill 944, which will implement a less than one percent fee on all of Oklahoma’s hospitals. Rabon stated the House needs to take action immediately to assign conferees to allow passage of SB 944, which will generate nearly $300 million in Medicaid revenue.
“I’m disappointed that Speaker Todd Hiett and his leadership are willing to leave Oklahoma’s neediest citizens behind based upon a procedural rule that doesn’t even apply to SB 944,” stated Rabon, D-Hugo.
The House leadership has been quoted as saying that they cannot pass a tax in the final week of the legislative session. Senator Rabon argued that this is not a tax, but rather a fee that will help Oklahoma’s needy families.
Senator Rabon added, “As someone who represents a high number of Medicaid-eligible citizens, I am pleading for help on behalf of those needy children for the House Republican leadership to quickly act upon this measure.”
In an article dated May 21st, 2005, a statewide newspaper, the Oklahoman, stated that “many of Oklahoma’s 360,000 poor children don’t get medical care because doctors don’t accept Medicaid patients due to low physician reimbursement rates…..The state’s Medicaid program is in violation of federal law,” which was ruled by a federal judge last week.
The proposal now included SB 944 is designed to create a hospital provider fee of 0.875 percent of annual gross revenue and use it to match federal Medicaid funds and invest the total revenue into Medicaid hospital and physician rates.
“The result would be that more needy children would receive the healthcare benefits they deserve and rural Oklahoma hospitals would be able to keep their doors open,” said Rabon. “This measure is expected to raise $93 million in state funds and draw more than $200 million in federal funds, which is a direct impact of more than $300 million in health care dollars. Oklahoma citizens who don’t have a voice here and the medical community are desperately calling on us for leadership. The Republican House Speaker needs to take action and he needs to take action right now.”