(Tulsa-AP) -- Health care benefits for about 37,000 of Oklahoma's neediest citizens were slashed Thursday by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
The authority cut premiums it pays to four health maintenance organizations for benefits to poor, old, blind and disabled Oklahomans. The cuts were needed to help close a $6.5-million shortfall.
But the authority reversed an earlier decision to raise Medicaid eligibility requirements. That would have pushed about 48,000 low-income children, elderly and disabled from the state's health care program.
So far this year, the authority has cut $24-million from its $1.5-billion budget. The state is facing a $291.7-million shortfall this year.