The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 5, 2013

Strategy appeals to lost money approach

NORMAN — Oklahoma hospital officials have tried many ways to persuade Gov. Mary Fallin and other state officials to expand the state’s Medicaid program with money from the federal government.

The expansion would allow hospitals and health care providers to be reimbursed for caring for thousands of low-income Oklahomans who will end up at the hospitals with or without coverage. So far, they’ve failed to get the governor to reconsider their denial.

Now, the proponents appear to be basing their strategy on a survey that says Oklahomans would rather accept federal money than see it go to another state. In their advertisements and on their website, Oklahomans for a Healthy Economy never uses the word Medicaid, which apparently is a negative for some politicians.

It reminds viewers that the federal government is prepared to spend $8.6 billion on health care in Oklahoma. If it is rejected here, it will go back to Washington or another state. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for three years, slightly less than 100 percent in the succeeding three years.

“We pay our taxes. This is our money. And we can spend it better than Washington politicians. So let's get together and make a plan for Oklahoma's health care money,” the ad says.

The survey found that 51 percent of those polled said Oklahoma should definitely or probably accept the money. Only 35 percent said the money should definitely be accepted. Thirty percent said the money should definitely be turned down, 4 percent said it should probably be rejected and 15 percent were undecided.

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