| October 30, 2012

Momentum building for Medicaid reform

Oklahoma participants in Medicaid and the taxpayers who fund the program must be encouraged by a recent letter from U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn to Gov. Mary Fallin. Dr. Coburn has treated Medicaid patients and is one of the most knowledgeable state and national leaders on federal spending and the desperate need for restraint and reducing government spending. In his letter, Dr. Coburn praised Gov. Fallin’s current efforts and shared her concerns about the prospect of expanding Medicaid, encouraged reform of the current Medicaid program and advised avoiding expanding the program as enticed by Obamacare.

The following are excerpts from the letter:

“I was pleased to hear you say in recent weeks that for the time you are delaying any decision regarding expanding Oklahoma’s Medicaid program (i.e. SoonerCare). Like you, many governors and state legislators have noted the great uncertainty facing states considering expanding the program.”

“…I do not think expanding the Medicaid program (in the manner prescribed by Obamacare) in Oklahoma is in the best interest of the taxpayers and patients in Oklahoma…”

“First, some of the cost of expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma will be borne by Oklahoma taxpayers…Some analysts have suggested expansion would somehow be a good deal for Oklahoman, since the federal government will pick up the bulk of the tab for the newly expanded population. However, there is only one set of taxpayers and some portion of federal contribution would still be borne by Oklahoman-whether through their federal or state taxes…”

“Second, options for expanding Medicaid under the heal care law assume the federal matching rate is continued at current levels, even though the federal government has a poor track record of upholding promises to American citizens…”

“Third, expanding Medicaid under the health care law could effectively reduce private health insurance options for Oklahomans...”

“Fourth, expanding Medicaid under the President’s health care law further perpetuates federal bureaucrats’ control of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program...”

“…For these reasons and more, I believe Oklahoma should not expand its Medicaid program. Focusing on managing the current program –rather than expanding it—is more responsible and compassionate than increasing spending and ceding more control to the federal government. I do believe our state Medicaid’s program can help Oklahomans who qualify for the program, but at a time when our national debt is $16 trillion and Congress is running trillion-dollar annual deficits, it is unlikely that federal promises of stable Medicaid funding are anything more than a mirage…”

OCPA could not agree more with Dr. Coburn. Oklahoma should focus on managing the current program rather than expanding it. This is why OCPA has highlighted the need for Medicaid reform and solutions to Oklahoma’s current problems with Medicaid. It is time to reform Medicaid, not expand it.

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