The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 1, 2014

Medicaid expansion would help Oklahoma residents

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The Transcript recently had a short piece reporting that the 25 states not expanding Medicaid will forfeit an estimated $426 billion over 10 years.

Actually, the Commonwealth Fund published an estimate that Oklahoma, by 2022, will have lost $1.264 billion of federal funds directly by not electing to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma. This is only an estimate, but it gives us an idea of the direct financial loss we will suffer.

However, that is not the worst of the harm that not expanding Medicaid will deliver.

Despite the talk of Oklahoma increasing health insurance coverage to more citizens, the number of Oklahomans who will not have health insurance has been estimated at 130,000 to 170,000 without the expansion.

Research at Harvard School of Public Health suggests that without the preventative care that would be supplied by Medicaid expansion, an additional 27,452 Americans will die in 2014. This estimate and others are based on comparisons between states that had already expanded Medicaid versus those that had not.

Medicaid expansion also helps stabilize hospitals by decreasing the amount of free treatment. Without the expansion, some hospitals in interurban and rural low income areas will likely close, which will compound the misery.

Not surprising, all the states that have refused Medicaid expansion have Republican governors, although some have accepted expansion.

Oklahoma, along with another four states, will have 90 percent or better of the eligible citizens who would be covered under the expansion to not be covered. Where is that talk of death panels now?

CHADWICK COX

Norman

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