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Oklahoma hospital group spearheads campaign to expand Medicaid

Group formed by Oklahoma Hospital Association launches website and radio ads to persuade Oklahoma policymakers to accept nearly $9 billion in federal funding, which Gov. Mary Fallin has rejected.
by Chris Casteel Published: May 1, 2013

Fallin rejected expansion

Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, announced in November that Oklahoma would not accept the Medicaid expansion funding, which was part of the health care law approved in 2010. The expansion was originally mandatory under the law, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the law last year made it optional.

Under the law, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years and then a declining percentage until 2020, when the federal share will stay at 90 percent.

In Oklahoma, the federal share would be an estimated $8.6 billion through 2022, while the state share through that same period would be nearly $700 million.

The expansion of Medicaid to cover those with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line would mean 180,000 more Oklahomans would be eligible beginning next year.

Oklahoma Hospital Association members favor Medicaid expansion to offset the costs of uncompensated care and the hit they're going to take from a cut in Medicare hospital payments under the health care law.

Patti Davis, executive vice president of the hospital association, said Tuesday that the goal of the public relations campaign is “to encourage Oklahomans to accept the federal money that is ours in order to fund health care for the uninsured in Oklahoma.”

She said the extent of the campaign is still evolving.

Fallin has said she wants to find innovative ways to provide more health care coverage in the state, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is paying a consulting firm $500,000 for ideas. Arkansas hopes to win approval from the Obama administration for a plan to use Medicaid expansion money to allow eligible residents to buy private insurance.

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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