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Gov. Mary Fallin's decision against Medicaid expansion rejects billions in federal aid

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin also rejected arguments that federal money would boost economic activity in the state, though the state hospital association estimates nearly 10,000 direct and indirect jobs
by Chris Casteel Modified: November 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm •  Published: November 21, 2012

The state would receive about $600 million a year from the federal government to cover people already eligible and the expansion. The expansion alone would mean nearly $3.6 billion in federal Medicaid money over seven years.


It's a good deal

The Obama administration and some health care providers, including the Oklahoma Hospital Association, have been making an economic argument for expanding Medicaid.

Marilyn Tavenner, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sent a letter to the Republican Governors Association in July noting that the federal government would pay 100 percent of the expansion for the first three years and at least 90 percent thereafter.

“We expect that, as states study their options, they will recognize that this is a good deal,” Tavenner wrote.

“Significant new federal funding will flow to their states. Their hospitals will get paid for what would otherwise be uncompensated care provided to uninsured patients. Their local economies will benefit and jobs will be created when their hospitals remain viable and their workers remain healthy. And the improved health of their residents who gain access to health care will be invaluable.”

The Oklahoma Hospital Association has estimated that, even if only 57 percent of newly eligible people enrolled, expanded Medicaid in Oklahoma would mean:

• $29.8 million in additional state tax collections annually;

• 4,187 direct health care jobs with $150.8 million payroll;

• 5,158 indirect jobs with $131.2 million payroll.

Alex Weintz, the governor's spokesman, said Tuesday, “The Obama Administration has been arguing that ‘Obamacare' is going to boost the economy for quite some time. Governor Fallin disagrees, and we think the majority of Oklahomans do, as well. Tax increases, government bureaucracy and more spending on entitlement programs even as the country approaches a fiscal cliff are not going to help Oklahoma's economy or the nation's economy.”

Weintz said that the advocates for expanding Medicaid “admit that yearly costs to the state will be in the tens of millions of dollars. That is money that will come directly out of the budget for schools, police academies, roads and bridges and even other health services. Any way you slice it, the state of Oklahoma cannot afford this expansion.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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