Oklahoma nonpartisan group comes up with suggestions for state leaders

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 12, 2012
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Going against the sentiment of GOP legislative leaders and the governor, a nonpartisan group of Oklahomans says the state should opt into the Medicaid expansion under the federal health care bill.

The Oklahoma Academy, a membership organization intended to bring public attention to policy issues and provide research, also suggests Oklahoma leaders focus on improving public education, consolidating county government and improving the health of state residents, according to a report released Tuesday.

“Oklahoma should opt into the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in order to improve primary and preventive care,” the report states.

“Town hall participants as they came through this process brought that forward and the suggestion of town hall participants was that we should participate in that,” said Steve Kreidler, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Academy, who presided in October over nearly three days of meetings in which about 140 participants came up with recommendations.

“That's now water under the bridge and we're going to go forward as Oklahomans,” he said.

State's rejection

Gov. Mary Fallin last month rejected the federal government's proposal to expand the Medicaid health care program to an estimated 150,000 uninsured individuals in Oklahoma. The governor said the Medicaid expansion is unaffordable and untenable given the fiscal challenges the federal government faces.

A governor's spokesman reiterated Tuesday that Oklahoma is not going to implement an expansion of Medicaid as proposed under the federal health care law.

“The governor does believe, however, that Oklahoma should continue to work on a state level to expand access to high-quality, affordable private health care,” said Alex Weintz, Fallin's communications director.

The group agrees with the Republican governor and GOP legislative leaders, however, that the workers' compensation system should be changed. It is suggesting an opt-out workers' compensation system, which would allow certain companies to create their own workers' compensation plans and opt out of the state system. It also suggests that changing from a judicial to an administrative system “could also reduce costs and improve predictability.”



Oklahoma should opt into the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in order to improve primary and preventive care.”

Oklahoma Academy report,

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