Congress Lets Insurance Program for Poor Children Expire, Oklahoma to Lose $49M

Oct 2, 2017

Health care for Oklahoma’s poorest children will take a $49 million dollar hit because of congressional inaction.

Federal lawmakers did not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by a Saturday deadline. Cate Jeffries with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said they can prolong the program if they essentially start buying on credit.

"We can continue to fund the CHIP program through state fiscal year 2018, which ends June 30, by pushing out some of our provider claim runs into the next fiscal year," Jeffries said.

Other states may have to shut down programs as early as next week. Around 125,000 Oklahoma kids get everything from immunizations to inpatient care through CHIP.

With the loss of $70 million because of Oklahoma’s unconstitutional cigarette tax, the health care authority’s total shortfall for this year is nearly $120 million. They'll likely cut payments to doctors and hospitals to make up for the loss.

The savings are "approximately $8.6 million for every 1 percent decrease in provider rates," said OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard.

Covering the budget shortfall entirely through provider rate cuts would mean about a 14 percent cut.