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Oklahoma needs federal help with health care

Published: January 18, 2013

Regarding “State panel hires consultant to study health care options” (News, Jan. 11): I appreciated the inclusion of the savings the state would have under the expansion of Medicaid, savings that Gov. Mary Fallin hasn't acknowledged. Her figures of the costs also assume 100 percent participation in Medicaid, while the current participation rate is 42 percent. Reliable estimates that include the economic development from the increased federal funding through a Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma suggest the state would make substantial money, rather than losing it.

Critical are the misconceptions around Insure Oklahoma. Though it's a state program, the funding source for Insure Oklahoma is federal dollars, provided through a Medicaid waiver. The federal government is unlikely to extend waivers for Insure Oklahoma or for SoonerCare when all the state would have to do is accept the full expansion. For that matter, why is it preferable to accept Medicaid dollars for some of the poor (those we fund through waivers) and not for others? Perhaps Oklahoma politicians want to find a way to expand Medicaid without admitting that what they're doing is accepting federal dollars. A more honest approach would be to acknowledge that Oklahoma needs federal help to provide health care coverage for its citizens earning up to 130 percent of the poverty income.

At the very least, we have to keep the option open of accepting Medicaid expansion.

Jonalu Johnstone, Oklahoma City


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