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Gov. Mary Fallin talks Medicaid reform in State of the State address

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: February 3, 2014

It looks like Medicaid reform could be a likely topic in the coming legislative session.

On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin said during her State of the State address that she will work with the Legislature to pursue Medicaid reform:

There are a lot of great, innovative ideas and policy solutions coming from the men and women in this room, and we will continue to explore them.

During her speech, Fallin did not include specifics about what that reform would look like.

Fallin announced in November 2012 that Oklahoma would not expand its Medicaid program. Since then, she has been both applauded and denounced, depending on which organization you ask.

Some argue that not expanding Medicaid will leave thousands without health insurance and without access to an array of medical services.

Other groups have argued that expanding the program is far too costly and does not promise the benefits that have been touted by the Obama administration.

Here’s a look at an excerpt from Fallin’s State of the State address:

I’m also committed to working with this Legislature to pursue Medicaid reform. There are a lot of great, innovative ideas and policy solutions coming from the men and women in this room, and we will continue to explore them.

I’m looking forward to continuing our work with private insurers, our healthcare industry and businesses to transform our “sick care system” – one that only helps people after they’ve fallen ill – into one that truly improves health outcomes by emphasizing preventative care and healthy living.

We also need to continue to encourage access to appropriate levels of care. Far too many people with non-critical health problems are receiving expensive, unnecessary treatment in emergency rooms.

Expanding Medicaid, as President Obama has proposed, does not solve this problem. In fact, it makes it worse.

The cost of Medicaid growth and expansion is astronomical: an estimated $850 million to the state of Oklahoma over a number of years, and over $1.3 trillion for the nation. The president’s plan is unworkable and unaffordable.

We cannot plunge this nation further into debt, or place Oklahoma on a fiscally unsustainable path, by expanding Medicaid. Both the president’s plan and alternative proposals that rely on federal dollars in the Affordable Health Care Act amount to the same thing: a dramatic growth in unsustainable government spending.

Washington wants to lead this nation in the wrong direction – but Oklahomans will not be led astray. We will find our own way forward, a better way.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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