Feds grant 1-year waiver for Insure Okla. program

09/11/2013 08:32 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The federal government will let the state operate its Insure Oklahoma health care plan for another year to buy state leaders more time to consider an alternative plan to provide coverage to the working poor, Gov. Mary Fallin announced on Sept. 6.

Flanked by state health officials, Fallin called the extension a “great win for the people of Oklahoma.”

“Insure Oklahoma has been around since 2005. It’s been a success for thousands of small businesses that have used it to help their employees purchase insurance,” Fallin said. “It’s been a success for tens of thousands of families of modest means, who would be uninsured without it. Moving forward, I strongly encourage our federal partners to review Insure Oklahoma’s many successes and announce their support for a permanent, ongoing program.”

Insure Oklahoma, which provides coverage to about 30,000 Oklahoma residents through both individual and employer-sponsored plans, was scheduled to cease operating at the end of the year. Federal officials expected many of the recipients to be eligible for Medicaid expansion if they earned up to 138 percent of federal poverty, or about $32,499 for a family of four.

But amid bitter resistance from some Republicans, Fallin rejected both the Medicaid expansion and the opportunity to set up a state-based insurance exchange where Oklahomans could purchase health insurance with federal tax subsidies. Both were offered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Instead, Oklahoma residents who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four, will be able to use federal tax subsidies to buy policies online through a federal exchange beginning Oct. 1.

But some state residents, including thousands on the Insure Oklahoma program, would have fallen into a “coverage crater” where they would have been ineligible for tax subsidies or Medicaid.

Under the one-year waiver, about 8,000 individuals currently on Insure Oklahoma who earn between 100 and 200 percent of federal poverty will instead purchase their health insurance through the federal exchange. Some of the co-pays required through Insure Oklahoma also will be reduced, including a $25 co-pay for doctor visits that will drop to $4, said Nico Gomez, director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state agency that oversees the Medicaid program in Oklahoma.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services said federal officials are urging states to accept billions of dollars in available Medicaid funding made possible through the new federal health care law, which provides 100 percent federal funding for three years and then drops incrementally to 90 percent.

“We look forward to working with Oklahoma and all other states in bringing a flexible, state-based approach to Medicaid coverage expansion and encourage the state to explore these options,” spokeswoman Emma Sandoe said in a statement.

Republican legislators favor the Insure Oklahoma program over Medicaid expansion because individual recipients pay modest co-pays, with the rest of the premiums covered by employer payments in some cases, along with state and federal matching funds.

“There’s some personal responsibility in the plan,” Fallin said.

The state’s portion of the funding comes from a tobacco tax approved by voters and is used to draw down matching federal Medicaid dollars.


10/24/2016 04:00 PM
FORT YATES, N.D. – Cherokee Nation officials and employees presented a $10,000 check to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in mid-October to help with attorney fees and delivered three truckloads of firewood to the Sacred Stone Camp where thousands of people continue to unite to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to a CN press release, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd and other tribal representatives met with several Standing Rock Sioux officials as well as campsite leaders and water protectors while in North Dakota. Hoskin Jr. said the Cherokee people are ones who have been “dispossessed, forcibly removed and had economies built on the backs of our people in their natural resources.” “That is a history that the Lakota and Dakota who are now protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline share,” Hoskin Jr. said. “It is a history that Indigenous people all over this world have shared and we are here to help change that history.” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Jesse McLaughlin said having the CN’s support meant much. “We are grateful. It’s getting cold and we are hunkered down until the end so we want everyone to stay warm. Firewood, fuel, and winterized tents are the biggest needs,” he said. According to the release, after approval from the CN Tribal Council, CN donated $10,000 to help the Sioux tribe with attorney fees and other costs to keep out the pipeline. Including the 54 ricks of wood delivered in October, the tribe has donated more than 100 ricks with plans to send another delivery in November. “This is the first time in history of tribes sustaining this much energy for one cause. It’s not about one tribe, it’s about all tribes coming together for a common cause,” Byrd said. “The Cherokee Nation is standing up for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all tribes who deserve a voice and respect.”
10/24/2016 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokees For Standing Rock group and the Mankiller Flats Water Protectors will host “Stickball for Standing Rock” on Oct. 29 on the grounds of the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center. According to the event page on Facebook, The Mankiller Flats Water Protectors are putting on a round robin stickball tournament to benefit the camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “Men and women teams will play each other in round robin format. The men’s team with the most wins will play the women’s team with the most wins and the winner will be the champ and will win T-shirts,” the page states. “Max players per team is 10 and minimum is 4.” The entry fee for each team is $50. The event will include youth activities, arts and crafts tables as well as Indian tacos. Sticks will be available for those who don’t own any. To sign up for the tournament contact Abraham Bearpaw, Callie Benoit or Cole Hogner on Facebook or visit <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1862207080675938/?active_tab=about" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/events/1862207080675938/?active_tab=about</a> to view the event page. The event will begin at 10 a.m. The Male Seminary Recreation Center is located at 1123 W. Fourth St.
10/21/2016 04:00 PM
GROVE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials are hosting two job fairs in November to help fill available positions at the new Cherokee Casino Grove. The job fairs will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 2 and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the Grove Community Center at 104 W. 3rd St. Attendees should bring their Certificate Degree of Indian Blood and tribal citizenship cards as well as an updated resume. Positions are available in gaming, operations, hospitality, security, maintenance and food and beverage. According to a CNE press release, Cherokee Nation-owned companies offer a comprehensive benefits package, including health, life, vision and dental insurance; a matching 401k plan, paid vacation and sick leave; and many other benefits. Native American applicants will be given preference, and all applicants must be 18 years of age or older to apply. Cherokee Casino Grove is located at Highway 59 and E. 250 Road near Tom Cat Corner and close to the popular Shangri-La Golf Club, marina and resort at Monkey Island.
10/21/2016 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Applications for the 2017 “Remember the Removal” bike ride are available for Cherokee Nation citizens. The application deadline is midnight Oct. 28. The three-week, 1,000-mile ride in June teaches CN citizens ages 16-24 about their culture and history as they cycle the same route their ancestors were forced to walk in 1838-39 to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. The route travels through seven states testing the cyclists’ physical and mental endurance. If selected to participate, participants would be required to take part in a physical training schedule and attend history classes. The classes will be taught during the four months of training to prepare for the ride. Participants will learn about the struggles their ancestors. The selection committee, whose members will not be related to any applicant, will review the required essays and applications submitted. It will be looking for CN citizens willing to learn more about Cherokee history and their ancestry related to the Trail of Tears. Successful applicants will be expected to interact with the public and speak to the public about their experiences on the ride. “Remember the Removal” cyclists also will be photographed, videoed, interviewed during the trip. So the committee will be looking for riders who are personable, well-spoken and would make ambassadors for the CN. Applicants must not have participated in the program before, be 16 to 24 as of Jan. 1 prior to the event and be able to pass a sport physical provided by the CN during the post-selection orientation. It is recommended participants reside inside the tribe’s jurisdiction, including the contiguous counties. Participants may have a different temporary address while away at school. If a participant lives outside the jurisdiction he or she will still be required to make all mandatory trainings and history classes in Tahlequah. Applications are online at <a href="http://remembertheremoval.cherokee.org/ParticipationApplication.aspx" target="_blank">http://remembertheremoval.cherokee.org/ParticipationApplication.aspx</a> and must be submitted by Oct. 28. The application requires an essay about why the applicant wants to participate, three letters of recommendation mailed or emailed to <a href="mailto: rtr@cherokee.org">rtr@cherokee.org</a> directly from the recommending party by the application deadline. Letters of recommendation should not be from CN employees, administration officials or Tribal Councilors. Letters should be from someone the applicant has worked with academically or professionally or a person they have known for a minimum of three years. For more information, call Gloria Sly at 918-453-5154 or email <a href="mailto: gloria-sly@cherokee.org">gloria-sly@cherokee.org</a>.
10/20/2016 04:00 PM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Campaign finance reports show the Cherokee Nation gave $6 million to the group behind a casino legalization proposal that was disqualified from the November ballot, while a dog track and horse track gave more than $1.4 million to the campaign opposing it. Arkansas Wins in 2016 reported Monday the Oklahoma-based tribe made up the bulk of $6.1 million in total contributions raised for its proposal to legalize casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties. The Arkansas Supreme Court last week disqualified the measure. The campaign said earlier this year Cherokee Nation would run the Washington county casino if the measure passed. Delaware North, which Southland Park Gaming and Racing, donated more than $721,000 on the campaign against the measure. Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs donated more than $748,000.
10/20/2016 12:00 PM
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — The attorney for a woman charged with driving her car into spectators at Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade and killing four people says he's given a judge and prosecutors a psychologist's report on a mental evaluation of the woman. Cherokee Nation citizen Adacia Chambers has pleaded not guilty to four counts of second-degree murder and 42 counts of assault and battery in the crash that occurred Oct. 24, 2015, in Stillwater. Attorney Tony Coleman has previously indicated plans to raise the question of mental illness or insanity at Chambers' trial set for January. Prosecutors say they'll have their own psychologist examine Chambers. A motion to move the trial out of Payne County because of pretrial publicity and several other defense motions were scheduled to be considered on Dec. 6.