Federal health plan will reduce strain on providers
Under the new national health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one major strategy for providing health insurance coverage to the 50 million Americans who are currently uninsured is an expansion of Medicaid, the shared state-federal program that provides health insurance coverage for more than one in five Oklahomans.
Currently, Medicaid covers most low-income children in Oklahoma but very few working-age adults — only pregnant women and the parents of dependent children whose income is less than half the federal poverty level. The ACA will expand Medicaid eligibility for adults up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
This expansion has created concern and uncertainty about the impact the law will have on state budgets. The federal government will initially pay the full cost of insurance for those who become newly eligible for Medicaid. By 2020, however, the state will be responsible for 10 percent of this population's cost. In addition, some individuals who are currently Medicaid-eligible but unenrolled in the program are expected to sign up after the law takes effect, and the state will pay a larger share of this population's cost. However, since current Medicaid eligibility for adults is so restrictive in Oklahoma, this “woodwork” population is quite small.
We don't yet have a comprehensive, independent study of the projected costs and savings of the Affordable Care Act for Oklahoma's state budget. However, most studies of the new law have concluded that increases to state Medicaid budgets will be modest. National studies from the Urban Institute and projections developed by Oklahoma's Medicaid agency have estimated that state spending on Medicaid will increase by less than 10 percent.
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