NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
When it comes to Obamacare, the political leadership of this state is still not ready to give up.
First, the governor and our legislative leaders decided to return over $54 million in federal funds for the development of a state insurance exchange, saying they were confident the Supreme Court would declare Obamacare unconstitutional.
They were wrong.
Then they said there was no reason to begin considering implementation because Obamacare would clearly be repealed as soon as the elections gave us a new president and enough Congressional votes to repeal the federal Act.
Neither event happened.
Now, they think they can sabotage the federal legislation by stubbornly talking about “costs” and refusing to participate in Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid Program — even though the eligibility expansion is to be funded 100 percent by federal dollars in the first year, with slight percentage drops thereafter between 2014 and 2020 (after 2020, 90% of the cost of insuring the additional Oklahomans will be borne by the federal government).
The result of this wrongheaded decision-making is to deny access to health insurance to more than 200,000 Oklahomans, who because of their income level, medical condition, work status or age are currently Medicaid ineligible.
Pure partisan politics seems to be the primary justification, and, as such, the end result is seen by many of us as morally indefensible. Right now, Oklahoma has between 600,000 and 700,000 residents without health insurance.
Under Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid eligibility provision, almost 1/3 of these Oklahomans could access health insurance (the remainder of Oklahoma’s uninsured residents will be required to purchase insurance on the state’s insurance exchange, or pay a penalty for not doing so).
It seems almost preposterous for our political leaders to reject an estimated $3.6 billion in federal funding over the next seven years because they don’t like the president’s health care program and want it to fail. Politics is never a good reason for those in power to keep their boots on the heads of the weakest. Improving the health of the poor and their children by giving them access to affordable health insurance should be a no-brainer for those we have elected.
DON G. HOLLADAY