Gov. Mary Fallin's decision to reject Medicaid expansion may score political points but it's a loser for taxpaying Oklahomans. Currently, all of us are paying for medical care for the uninsured in one way or another. Just one part of the cost is the $43 million of taxpayer money paid in one year to Oklahoma hospitals for uncompensated care. Fallin continues reliance on highest-cost, worst-case treatment at emergency rooms, rather than cost-efficient, ongoing care with regular visits to doctors and nurses through Medicaid expansion.
What did Fallin reject by running from simple Medicaid expansion? She gave up getting more of our federal tax dollars back to Oklahoma. Why not let the federal budget pay 100 percent for the many uninsured in Oklahoma for three years? Why reject a pro-work program that encourages low-income people to earn slightly more than the poverty level, while maintaining their health care? She sacrificed common-sense reforms, such as having parents equally eligible for Medicaid as their children, resulting in complete, healthy families. She left small-business owners coping with employees who must be gone for a half day at the emergency room, rather than half an hour at a doctor's office.
Fallin leaves all of us still paying more for care of the state's uninsured. She short-circuits the serious discussion that was meant to start after the election, but she presents no plan of her own. Fallin's political posturing should relax enough to listen to party members and advocates for fiscally responsible health care for more Oklahomans.
Steven B. Goldman, The Village