July 06-- Gov. Mary Fallin hasn't decided whether the state should accept new federal Medicaid funding, a feature of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, which would provide health insurance for about 200,000 uninsured Oklahoma adults.
She's getting lots of input from interested stakeholders, and not surprisingly we have some of our own. Why not ask some of those 200,000 Oklahomans who are probably losing sleep over health worries what they think about participating in the Medicaid expansion?
The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week upholding most of the act paves the way for implementation to continue. Most states already have made significant or moderate progress toward implementation. Oklahoma is one of only 17 states that so far have done nothing.
State leaders have indicated they will not take any steps toward creating a health insurance exchange, another requirement of the act, preferring instead to wait and hope that President Obama is defeated in November. That decision, plus the fact some leaders in other states already are refusing the new Medicaid funding, makes some observers believe Fallin won't want to take the money either.
But even if Obama is defeated, it looks increasingly unlikely that health-care reform will be tossed out in its entirety. Among other reasons, the fact that many Americans -- including tens of thousands of Oklahomans -- are benefiting from its provisions makes complete repeal a tough proposition.
Providing insurance for 200,000 more Oklahomans who for various reasons are unable to obtain it has many positive aspects. Not only would it be beneficial to those obtaining insurance, but it also would greatly help health-care providers and facilities by keeping costs down and reducing uncompensated care.
And remember, if we don't accept the Medicaid funding, it's just going to end up going to other states.
It's true that there would be an added cost to the state in future years, but that would be more than offset by the savings that would be realized.
Political posturing is to be expected on this issue. But people's futures, lives and health are at stake here. Shouldn't some things be more important than making a political point?
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