'Take the step'
Editor, The Transcript:
Mailings opposing State Question 802 are arriving in my mailbox. Their principal argument, other than Medicaid expansion is part of the Affordable Care Act, seems to be the cost.
Now conservatives are constantly calling for government to operate more as a business. Indeed, that was one of the principal arguments Gov. Kevin Stitt used in his campaign.
Now I'm only a small businessman, but if someone offered to sell me $10 bills for $1, I'd certainly be harvesting as many of those bills as I could. So why are conservatives so against Medicaid expansion when the Affordable Care Act guarantees a 90:10 match to states that expand Medicaid?
Conservatives argue that Medicaid expansion would require higher taxes. While it's true that state does have to find the funds for the 10% match, the bulk of that is likely to be paid by hospital fees. Reliable estimates indicate Oklahoma would return approximately $1 billion to the state that is now supporting Medicaid expansion in 36 other states. How is that bad for Oklahoma?
The "Vote No on 802" mailers argue Medicaid expansion would result in cuts to core services that we rely on. Although not specific, we assume they mean education, health, mental health and human services, but those all have dedicated funding streams that can't be diverted to other services.
What do we as citizens of Oklahoma get out of Medicaid expansion? People who would be covered include parents who work hard at jobs that don't offer insurance, seniors nearing retirement who have lost their health care and Oklahomans who are trapped in the coverage gap -- meaning they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford care on the insurance exchange.
Reliable estimates suggest that 200,000 Oklahomans who currently have no health insurance could be covered by expanding Medicaid. Long \-term benefits include a healthier population, and everyone knows Oklahoma needs to move up from the bottom quintile of health outcomes.
On June 30, Oklahomans have the opportunity to take the step that 36 other states have, take advantage of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion option. It's the right thing to do for Oklahoma.