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Proposed Medicaid cuts could leave thousands without health care

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A state bill that could leave thousands of Oklahomans without health insurance passed the State House and now moves on to the senate.

The bill requests permission from the federal government to remove able-bodied men and women from Medicaid.

The author of House Bill 2665, State Representative Doug Cox said it's a way to help fix the state's budget problems.

"As you know, we have a $1.3 billion shortfall this year," said Cox.

If passed, the bill could take away Medicaid benefits for any able-bodied people who are not pregnant and under the age of 65.

"I felt like this was the least vulnerable population, because, by definition, since they are able-bodied adults, they can work," said Cox.

Susan Savage, CEO for Morton Comprehensive Health Center, said for many people benefiting from Medicaid, work isn't the problem.

"These are working men and women," said Savage. "I would feel better about the decision if their employers offered health care, but they don't. Many companies don't now in Oklahoma."

Savage said if the bill passes as written, the fallout could be huge.

"We might have to shut down some of our clinics over time," said Savage.

Savage said there are roughly 600,000 people in Oklahoma without insurance.

"With the decision made at the House, that could potentially go to 800,000," said Savage.

Savage said she's hopeful state leaders will do what it takes to make sure that doesn't happen.

"Our leadership in Oklahoma City has to be part of the solution," said Savage.

Cox said he's working on a plan to help the ones who could be left without insurance.

One possibility would be to expand Insure Oklahoma, a program that uses cigarette tax dollars to help cover health care costs.

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