I was waiting on the state Board of Health meeting to start today when I got a tweet about a news story from News Channel 4. The story was about the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which posts its surgery prices on its website, which most hospitals do not do.
The original tweet, sent at 10:31 a.m., launched a debate involving three Oklahoma Twitter users that have a range of viewpoints on whether Oklahoma should expand its Medicaid program.
The contenders in today’s debate:
- Jonathan Small, the fiscal policy director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank that has argued Oklahoma should reform Medicaid, not expand it.
- A Plan for Oklahoma, an account (with a lot of moderators, apparently) that represents “community and business leaders partnering to promote a plan to improve Oklahoma’s fiscal and physical health.” A Plan for Oklahoma is a “project of Oklahomans for a Healthy Economy.” You can read a story on the group here.
- Gene Perry, a policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute, an organization that has advocated that Gov. Mary Fallin should expand Medicaid for the uninsured.
The debate/argument started with this tweet from Jonathan Small:
From there, A Plan for Oklahoma tweeted back that:
Small and the Plan for Oklahoma’s Twitter moderator’s quickly transitioned into a debate about Medicaid expansion, hopping from topic to topic within that debate.
Small argued that the Obama administration has overstated and overpromised what the Affordable Care Act would bring. A Plan for Oklahoma argued back that Medicaid expansion would save about $464 million and help hospitals, businesses, communities and taxpayers. Several tweets later, they got a little snappier (before Gene Perry jumped in).
Cue Gene Perry.
From here, Perry argues that the original topic of the debate — price transparency — and Medicaid expansion are different issues. Small did not agree.
After almost 50 tweets, the debate seems to maybe have simmered for now. But it points to just how contentious these conversations can get. Many Oklahomans often feel strongly, one way or the other, about “Obamacare.”
Personally, I’m all for people debating about the Affordable Care Act. We need more Oklahomans engaged in the important conversations and debates being had about the future of health care in Oklahoma. My hope, though, is that the “facts” being thrown out in these debates are more based on unbiased independent analysis and less so on agenda promotion.