WASHINGTON — 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.
10,000 fewer would have experienced depression in a year.
5,500 fewer would have had catastrophic out-of-pocket medical bills.
Oklahoma would receive $1.6 billion over three years to cover the newly eligible.
The money would lead to 7,300 more jobs in the state over the three years.
President Barack Obama said the report “is yet another reminder that access to affordable health care makes a real difference to families, hospitals and state economies across the country ... and I urge the governors and state legislatures who have not yet expanded Medicaid to put their constituents’ health over partisan politics and give millions more Americans the access to affordable health care they deserve.”
The report was released a day after the Oklahoma Health Care Authority voted to slash Medicaid payments to health care providers primarily because of a cut in federal aid.
Fallin announced Monday that the Obama administration had agreed to another one-year extension of Insure Oklahoma, a state program that uses tobacco tax revenue and federal money to provide coverage for 19,000 low-income residents.
Nico Gomez, CEO of the state’s health care authority, said that — given the decision by the governor not to expand Medicaid — Insure Oklahoma is the state’s way of helping more low-income residents purchase coverage.