Penny wise, pound foolish

Published: February 22, 2013
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Gov. Mary Fallin's refusal to accept Medicaid expansion funds hurts all Oklahomans. The state's costs would be zero for some years and would never rise above 10 percent, but the governor has argued that even that 10 percent will damage the state's economy by sapping tax dollars. This objection is penny wise and pound foolish.

The Affordable Care Act has already reduced Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals in order to extend insurance to workers too poor to qualify for subsidized insurance payments. Now, cuts from both Medicare and Medicaid are afflicting hospitals and doctors across the state while federal tax dollars we pay for Medicaid are flying out the window. Medicaid insurance for the working poor would save all of us a lot of money. As matters stand, uninsured citizens go to the emergency room, often when their untreated chronic illnesses have reached a crisis. At that point the bill is stiff.

Who pays that bill? Businesses, government and individuals with private health insurance. How much better off would we be sharing a little tax money with the working poor so their illnesses could be treated before a catastrophe? Americans spend 2.6 times more on health care than citizens in all other industrialized countries, and we get inferior overall results.

Fallin should accept Medicaid expansion to keep our workers healthy and save us all money.

Kris Lackey, Norman

Nationally, Medicaid expansion is projected to cost $1.03 trillion between 2013 and 2022. States would pay $76 billion of that. Fallin said accepting the expansion would cost Oklahoma taxpayers $689 million over 10 years, a figure disputed by expansion supporters.