In April 2004, Senate Bill 1546 authorized the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to develop a program assisting adults, 19 to 64 years of age, who do not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level, with either (1) a portion of their private health plan premiums, or (2) the purchase of a state sponsored health plan operated under the state Medicaid program.
After conducting a study of the uninsured in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) developed viable, realistic, and effective strategies to cover the uninsured through the Oklahoma State Planning Grant (HRSA grant).
In November 2004, the Oklahoma Health Care Initiative, otherwise known as State Question 713, created the funding to make a program like this possible. SQ 713, passed by a vote of Oklahomans, increased the sales tax on tobacco products. A portion of these revenues were designated to be used to fund the new health program.
The joint effort of Governor Henry, the State Legislature, OHCA, and other committed organizations resulted in the Oklahoma Employer/Employee Partnership for Insurance Coverage (O-EPIC) program. O-EPIC is designed and intended to assist in the purchase of health coverage. Oklahomans can participate in two ways:
1. The Premium Assistance Partnership Program, designed to assist small business owners in providing their employees and their employees’ families with health insurance, and
2. The Premium Assistance Public Program designed to assist sole proprietors (self employed), certain unemployed individuals, and working individuals who do not have access to small group health coverage