Hospitals Want Federal Dollars For Oklahoma's Medicaid Program
When Gov. Mary Fallin rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid, she said the plan would have cost the state millions over the next decade. But the Oklahoma Hospital Association said this week that taking the same money for another purpose would save millions.
Instead of putting the money toward Medicaid coverage, the OHA wants to give it to Insure Oklahoma, a state-run insurance program originally designed for small businesses.
As of January, Insure Oklahoma covered less than 20,000 workers. OHA President Craig Jones told The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt adopting the plan would put 230,000 Oklahomans in the program.
The premium-assistance program is paid for by workers, employers and a combination of state and federal money. Jones said there are several ways the state might expand Insure Oklahoma, but doing so would put more people on insurance and help keep rural hospitals open. “It would bring in $9.9 billion into the economy over an eight-to-10-year period of time,” Jones said during a seminar Wednesday at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, College of Public Health. What limits the OHA plan is what limits Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Mary Fallin rejected expansion, arguing that it would cost Oklahoma in the long run. “We’ve also heard that Oklahoma can’t afford this,” Jones said. “Even though at maximum, the state would put in a dollar and we would get nine dollars back from the federal government.”
Still, it’s a tough sell. At a discussion about the plan on Wednesday, state Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, acknowledged it’s a longshot. He said anything linked to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will probably draw a rebuke from fellow lawmakers.
“If we called tornado relief ‘Obama relief,’ we would not take it,” said Cox, R-Grove. “Hopefully we can take some federal money to expand Insure Oklahoma; it’s almost playing word games, but that’s the political realism.”
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