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Expand Medicaid Now!

March 4, 2013

Are the people occupying legislative seats of power in Oklahoma City really looking out for the welfare of the citizens of the state? Their actions to date don’t show that they are.

They are short-changing the youth with cuts to education, denying low-income citizens an avenue to better healthcare and diverting the middle class from affording needed health coverage. This situation will only get worse if the U. S. Congress follows through with the politically instigated Sequester.

The governor’s inability to comprehend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is known, although not understood, by the medical profession. The Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, while speaking to members of the Frederick Rotary club February 18 of this year, and reported in the Frederick, Oklahoma newspaper, presented two facts contained in the Mission Statement of the Authority:
1. To purchase health care in the most efficient and comprehensive manner;
2. To study and improve healthcare for Oklahomans regardless of their ability to pay.

He went on to explain, “Although Medicaid was enacted in 1965, the same time as Medicare, the only thing the two programs have in common is they both start with the letter ‘M‘. MEDICARE is a Federal Insurance Benefit (partially paid by employee deductions from paychecks), while MEDICAID is administered by the State.” (Subsidized expansion of Medicaid is available to Oklahoma under ACA.)

“In 1997, statistics show that 280,000 Oklahoma women and children were enrolled in Medicaid. In January of this year, there were 817,000. During that 16 years period, the state saved $2 Billion!

He explained, “These savings developed through the ‘Insure Oklahoma’ plan. Insure Oklahoma is an insurance plan for employers with less than 90 employees making it possible to offer a plan to those employees. It also offers plans to (self-employed) individuals. The expansion of Medicaid as outlined in the ACA (Obamacare) would be a definite benefit to Oklahoma.” To this writer, It seems the part of the plan least understood by those in charge is that preventive screenings enable earlier treatment for patients, possibly averting the health problem altogether.

As reported earlier by several different news outlets, the expansion of Medicaid through the ACA will gain Oklahoma $522 Million in new tax revenues and over $300 Million in revenues from federal sources that are now spent by the state for healthcare.

Not only does Governor Fallin not want the federal government to pay 100% of Oklahoma’s Medicaid Expansion costs for the next three years, and 90% by the year 2020, she is spending $500,000 to hire the former Republican Governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt, to assess Oklahoma’s health care options.
It has been proven that children who live at or below the federal poverty line don’t receive proper medical attention or nutrition. This affects not only their quality of life but their ability to study and progress with their education. To gamble with one’s own health is foolhardy. To gamble with the nutrition and health of Oklahoma’s children is criminal!

With the current Sequester facing the U.S. Government, we can only hope that Oklahoma’s legislators, while they continue with their ill planned attempts to lower state income taxes, have considered Oklahoma’s financial losses when hospitals, military bases, schools and transportation are no longer subsidized . The State of Oklahoma will lose Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in federal subsidies and grants. Communities beside military facilities will suffer substantial declines in spending bases producing fewer sales taxes collected. It will also affect not only the health but education and general welfare of Oklahomans. Senior Nutritional Programs and Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will be severely reduced, placing recipients’ health in jeopardy.

Ask our governor to grasp the “life line” being freely offered. Keep that $500 Thousand Dollars. Set Oklahoma’s Medicaid Expansion in place through ACA!

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