Policy Research Fellow

Kaitlyn Finley currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on healthcare and welfare policy. Kaitlyn graduated from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Previously, she served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time in Washington D.C. interning for the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Policy Research Fellow

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Oklahoma's Medicaid spending, as a percentage of total state spending, has nearly tripled over the past two decades. 

In 1997, Oklahoma’s share of Medicaid costs totaled $536 million, or 4 percent of total state spending ($12.28 billion). Last year, Oklahoma’s portion of total costs amounted to $2.3 billion, or 12 percent of total state spending ($18.2 billion).




While Medicaid spending now accounts for 12 percent of total state spending, its share of total appropriated dollars is actually higher.

In 2017, the Oklahoma Legislature appropriated a total of $6.88 billion. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), which administers Oklahoma's Medicaid program, received $1.028 billion, or 15 percent of those appropriated dollars. That's compared to the $460 million, or 7 percent of all appropriated dollars, OHCA received in 1997.



Medicaid has continued to take a large chunk out of the federal budget as well. The Congressional Budget Office Historical Budget Data from April 2018 recorded the annual federal costs for Medicaid increased from $151 billion to nearly $389 billion from 1997 to 2017, and Medicaid expenditures as a percentage of all federal spending increased from nearly 6 percent to 9.4 percent respectively.

Rising Medicaid costs add to the growing federal deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the federal deficit for fiscal year 2018 was $758 billion. Although most state governments cannot constitutionally run a deficit in their budgets, they have no problem relying on borrowed federal dollars to fund their welfare programs. 


This article is part of a series on Oklahoma's Medicaid program, SoonerCare. Other articles in the series include:
What is Medicaid?
Charting Oklahoma Medicaid Growth over the past 20 years


Note: All dollar figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation using 2018 dollars.

Policy Research Fellow

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