Share “Without Medicaid expansion, many...”

Without Medicaid expansion, many Oklahomans with mental health issues will go untreated, experts say

An estimated 122,000 Oklahomans with mental health issues who would have qualified for Medicaid in Oklahoma if the program were expanded to include more low-income adults, according to a report from the American Mental Health Counselors Association.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: July 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: July 21, 2014


photo - 
Joshua Kraft, 26, of Pauls Valley, stands on the front porch of his family home. Kraft suffers from chronic depression and severe anxiety, which prevents him from holding a job. Photo by K.T. King, The Oklahoman
  KT King - 
The Oklahoman
Joshua Kraft, 26, of Pauls Valley, stands on the front porch of his family home. Kraft suffers from chronic depression and severe anxiety, which prevents him from holding a job. Photo by K.T. King, The Oklahoman KT King - The Oklahoman

A framed portrait of Abraham Lincoln hangs prominently near Joshua Kraft’s bedroom door.

For Kraft, it’s a reminder of what he could be, what he wants to be.

Although historians don’t agree across the board on how he suffered, it’s documented that Lincoln suffered some form of chronic depression.

For Kraft, that’s a motivator.

Kraft is one of an estimated 122,000 Oklahomans with mental health issues who would have qualified for Medicaid in Oklahoma if the program were expanded to include more low-income adults, according to a report from the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

Kraft, 26, of Pauls Valley, wants to run for office someday, but first, he must find a way to better control his chronic depression and anxiety. It likely would be easier if he could afford treatment, he said.

“According to the Affordable Care Act’s (marketplace), I signed up and went through that process, and they said I would qualify for state Medicaid,” Kraft said. “When you go to the state Medicaid website, due to Governor Fallin’s unwillingness to expand it, I don’t qualify.”

Oklahoma is one of about 21 states that have chosen not to expand their Medicaid programs, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s spokesman Alex Weintz said the governor chose not to expand Medicaid because the state cannot afford the funding commitment, which would pull state dollars away from other priorities, such as education and public safety.

“Mental health is a huge priority for Governor Fallin,” Weintz said. “She has fought tooth and nail to successfully increase the budget of the Mental Health Department to support suicide prevention, prescription drug treatment and counseling, the construction of crisis centers for those experiencing mental health emergencies, and other important programs.”

‘Coverage gap’

Under Medicaid expansion, the federal government would pay for 100 percent of the state’s cost of covering newly eligible enrollees for the first three years, from 2014 to 2016. After that, the amount of money the federal government pays decreases, reaching 90 percent by 2020. After 2020, the state would have paid 10 percent of newly eligible enrollee costs, while the federal government would have paid 90 percent.

In almost 30 states that are implementing Medicaid expansion, Medicaid covers many low-income adults younger than 65, such as an adult making up to about $16,000 or a family of four with an income of about $32,500, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Because the Affordable Care Act envisioned low-income people receiving coverage through expanded Medicaid, people below poverty are not eligible for federal health insurance marketplace subsidies, according to the foundation. Thus, in states not implementing the Medicaid expansion, some adults fall into a “coverage gap” of earning too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for premium tax credits, according to the foundation.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
+ show more


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Report says Oklahoma teachers' greatest concern is testing
  2. 2
    OU ranked No. 22 in Phil Steele's projected AP Top 25
  3. 3
    WPX Energy gaining more than $200 million cash by selling Marcellus Shale marketing contracts
  4. 4
    CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Student allegedly spitting, spraying Windex on roommates' food
  5. 5
    Tulsa police arrest accused serial shoplifter
+ show more