Policy analyst: Leavitt report is still Obamacare

BY JONATHAN SMALL Published: July 14, 2013
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According to the OHCA, 1,007,356 Oklahomans were enrolled in Medicaid during fiscal year 2012. This is 26 percent of the population. Medicaid covers 64 percent of births and 67 percent of long-term-care-occupied bed days in Oklahoma. Nearly 260,000 Medicaid patients used an emergency room last year, visiting an ER 528,264 times at a cost over $169 million to taxpayers.

Based on last year's enrollment, accepting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion (as required in the Leavitt report) would result in nearly 33 percent of Oklahomans on Medicaid. Note: Medicaid spending in Oklahoma exceeds total state spending on common education and higher education combined.

The Leavitt report's chief problem is that it largely ignores the major problems in health care: lack of medical price transparency, cost and government intrusions in health care, which result in market distortions that put consumers on an unlevel playing field with employers and health care providers. The crux of the report is to dump a bunch of money into a health care system that's still controlled by a black box, especially as it concerns extreme lack of medical price transparency and cost. Sadly, some of the biggest proponents of the report are working against transparency.

The Leavitt report is still Obamacare. It's time to fix Medicaid, not expand it, and make it work better for patients, giving them a pathway off the welfare program altogether.

Small is fiscal policy director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org), a free market think tank.