Today Brutus is nearing college graduation with a degree in chemistry. He expects to soon be a gainfully employed, taxpaying citizen who leaves Medicaid support behind.
Oklahoma officials are being pressured to expand Medicaid as a result of Obamacare. A better option would be to focus on making Medicaid work for those already in the existing program by pursuing Florida-style reforms here. These reforms would not only benefit patients like Brutus, but would save taxpayer money.
Once expanded statewide, Florida's reform is expected to save $1 billion per year; a similar effort in Louisiana is estimated to save $159 million in its first year. In Kansas, similar reforms are projected to save $1.1 billion over five years — all without reducing patient care and, in many cases, improving it.
House Bill 1552, by Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, and Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, would enact Florida-style reforms in Oklahoma. The bill appears stalled this year. Lawmakers should make it a priority next session. The growing cost of the existing Oklahoma Medicaid program is already diverting money from schools, roads and public safety, so the potential taxpayer savings alone should appeal to lawmakers.
But most of all, it could mean far better outcomes for those the program is supposed to serve. As Brutus notes, “There's really millions of other people just like me out there.”