Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders rejected the expansion of Medicaid coverage for approximately 175,000 uninsured Oklahomans. By contrast, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, on the day after the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed into law, appointed a task force to prepare his state to accept more Medicaid money and establish rules on how it would be spent. Maryland is ready. Its program will offer 300 insurance options provided by 12 private insurance companies and nine managed-care systems. These aren't government programs but private ones — just like the coverage carried today by millions of Americans.
This will extend good and affordable health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Marylanders. For three years, Washington will pay 100 percent of the cost and approximately 90 percent thereafter. Some of the federal largesse that will flow to that state will come courtesy of Oklahoma taxpayers. For those who worry about the national debt, and we all should, our now lost Medicaid money can't be used to reduce the debt but can only be spent on health care.
For those who are always lamenting that we need to be more like Texas, I will say this: Mission accomplished! Gov. Rick Perry also rejected the Medicaid money even though Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation. Oklahoma is “only” fourth. But if we keep trying, maybe we can be No. 1 someday. Fallin and the Legislature have surely put us on the path to do so.
Cal Hobson, Lexington
Hobson, A Democrat, spent 28 years in the Legislature and was Senate president pro tem from 2003 to 2005.