120K people in Oklahoma gain Medicaid coverage as expansion takes effect

120K people in Oklahoma gain Medicaid coverage as expansion takes effect
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About 120,000 people in Oklahoma are gaining Medicaid coverage effective Thursday, as the state's expansion of Medicaid takes effect, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Oklahoma voters passed Medicaid expansion last year in a ballot measure, and the expansion takes effect starting Thursday. Oklahoma is now the 37th state to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act.

Since applications opened on June 1, more than 120,000 people have applied for and been determined eligible for Medicaid coverage, HHS said. An additional 70,000 people who have not yet applied are also eligible, the department said.

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“Today is a victory for the nearly 200,000 Oklahomans who have been waiting for health care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Bottom line Overnight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all MORE. “I want to congratulate Oklahoma on joining the ranks of states that are bringing quality health coverage to our neighbors and families. I encourage the remaining 13 states to look at the opportunities included in the American Rescue Plan and join us, so that every person eligible can get covered.”

The American Rescue Plan, passed earlier this year, provides an additional 5 percentage points of the federal share of Medicaid funding for a state, as an incentive to expand.

However, the remaining Republican-controlled holdout states have largely not shown interest in that incentive and are still opposed to expansion.

Democrats in Congress are now engaged in discussions about a federal program to provide coverage in the holdout states.

One of the 13 remaining states, Missouri, also had voters pass Medicaid expansion in a ballot measure last year. But the Republican-controlled legislature declined to provide funding, and Gov. Mike Parson (R) declined to go forward with expansion without funding. There is currently a lawsuit making its way through the courts challenging those moves.