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Affordable Care Act would cover almost all Oklahoma inmates, study

10-20-2012 Oklahoma:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Practically all of Oklahoma's costs for hospitalizing prison inmates would be picked up by the federal government if the state accepts funding under the Affordable Care Act, a Department of Corrections analysis shows.

In fiscal year 2012, the state prison system spent $13 million on hospital bills for inmates, DOC spokesman Jerry Massie said.

Under the federal law, practically all of those costs would be picked up by Medicaid starting in 2014, he said.

There's one catch, however: The state would have to accept the federal government's money.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, it struck a provision that mandated that every state accept an expansion of its Medicaid program to cover households earning as much as 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The decision essentially made the Medicaid expansion optional.

Several states, including Texas, have announced that they aren't interested in cooperating with the federal program, but Oklahoma has not made a decision.

Gov. Mary Fallin, who has called the Affordable Care Act unworkable and unaffordable, has delayed making a choice on the Medicaid expansion until after November's presidential election.

If Oklahoma accepts the Medicaid expansion, virtually all prison inmates would fall within the 133 percent of federal poverty level standard, Massie said.

At present, that standard is $14,856 a year for an individual.

Some inmates already qualify for Medicaid-funded hospitalization, including older, blind and disabled prisoners. ...Continued... by WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer

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