Oklahoma blames Trump officials for higher premiums

Oklahoma blames Trump officials for higher premiums
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Oklahoma officials are blaming the Trump administration for rising health-care premiums in the state after the administration missed a deadline to approve a key waiver for the state under ObamaCare.

In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions Fitch Ratings: GOP tax plan will hike deficits, be 'revenue negative' Live coverage: Day two of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup MORE and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceDems look to gain ground in Va. House of Delegates Pruitt to address trade group at luxury resort Spring promises of partnership on health-care reform are growing cold for states MORE, Oklahoma's health commissioner rips the administration for missing a final deadline for a State Innovation Waiver, which would be used to lower premiums around the state.

The waivers provide federal funds "to implement innovative ways to provide access to quality health care that is at least as comprehensive and affordable as would be provided absent the waiver," according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Oklahoma health commissioner's letter said that approving the waiver would have helped more than 130,000 Oklahoma residents and reduced premiums by 30 percent.

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"After months of development, negotiation, and near-daily communication over the past six weeks, the State and your departments agreed that waiver approval must be received no later than September 25, 2017," the letter from Oklahoma's Commissioner of Health Terry Cline reads.

"As late as last Friday, September 22nd, an agreed upon approval package had been circulated with the state expectation, and federal department promise, that waiver approval would be forthcoming on Monday, September 25," the letter continues.

But on Monday, the letter says, Oklahoma officials learned that approval would not be issued that day, and received no timeframe for the waiver to be approved.

"Three days later, beyond health plan commitment and rate filing deadlines, Oklahoma is forced to withdraw our waiver request due to the failure of departments to provide timely waiver approval."

Cline blamed the administration for causing higher rates for "thousands" of Oklahoma residents.

"The lack of timely waiver approval will prevent thousands of Oklahomans from realizing the benefits of significantly lower insurance premiums in 2018."

President Trump has frequently threatened to end key ObamaCare payments and let the program "implode."

The Oklahoma letter emerged Friday after Price resigned as Trump's HHS chief following reports that his use of military flights and private jets cost more than $1 million since May.