White House argues for Medicaid expansion

New report reiterates arguments that expanding health care program for poor would also be an economic boost, and a White House spokesman says politics is behind refusal in some states.
by Chris Casteel Modified: July 2, 2014 at 12:06 am •  Published: July 2, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma City Indian Clinic benefits technician Michelle Baker, right, works with Jamie Carpitcher to see if she qualifies for the insurance tax credit through the Affordable Care Act at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Baker helps patients at the clinic get on track to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic benefits technician Michelle Baker, right, works with Jamie Carpitcher to see if she qualifies for the insurance tax credit through the Affordable Care Act at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Baker helps patients at the clinic get on track to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

— Oklahoma and other states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are denying health care and economic benefits to citizens because of short-term political considerations, a White House official said in a new report Wednesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said much of the debate over allowing more people on the Medicaid rolls “has gotten bound up in politics,” including the assertion by some governors that states would be on the hook for major spending increases in the future.

The new report, by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, draws on estimates and experiences from states that have expanded their coverage for the poor. Oklahoma is one of 24 states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid. Most of the states that have rejected the expansion have Republican governors.

The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand coverage to those with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level with 100 percent federal funding for three years and 90 percent thereafter.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced in late 2012 that the state would not expand its program, citing the costs that the state would have to bear in the future.

The arguments made in the report are not new; the administration has been making them for nearly two years, since the U.S. Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion an option rather than mandatory.

But the report attempts to quantify some of the earlier arguments by attaching more numbers. According to the report:

123,000 more Oklahomans would have health insurance.

14,000 more would have received all necessary care in the past year.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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