The Norman Transcript


January 15, 2013

Matter of compassion vs. politics



The federal reimbursement for expansion of Medicaid would have been 100 percent of the cost through 2016, and then gradually decreasing to 90 percent by 2020. This means the estimated cost to Oklahoma, if 75 percent of those eligible participate (some estimate that only 57 percent will sign up), would be $27 million in 2017 and increase to $56 million by 2020. This is a do-able number. 

Oklahomans will still have to pay federal taxes and penalties for not having health care insurance. With the governor’s decision, our money will now be used to expand the program in other states while our own citizens continue to be uninsured and lack access to care. 

Presently, Oklahoma hospitals receive supplemental Medicare money, called disproportionate share (DSH) payments to offset the cost of caring for the uninsured. These payments are going to be decreased or eliminated as a way to finance the federal share of the health plan.

Since the governor chose not to participate, Oklahoma hospitals will still lose the DSH payment and not be able to recoup the loss through the Medicaid expansion. Hospitals will face closing or raising prices to those with insurance, or paying with cash to make up for this lost revenue. 

I respect Gov. Fallin’s decision, but I work on a daily basis with good people who need but cannot get access to medical care. Right or wrong, my compassionate heart overrules my political mind.

 Rep. Doug Cox M.D., R-Grove represents Delaware and Mayes County in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He is a practicing emergency room physician at Integris Grove General Hospital on Grand Lake.

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