Statement on Medicaid expansion ballot initiative
April 19, 2019
Statement from Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, on the filing of a ballot initiative to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot.
“There isn’t support in the Legislature or the public for forcing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma for a simple reason: It prioritizes spending billions of taxpayer dollars on welfare benefits for able-bodied, working age adults, many of them single working-age men, over providing care for the truly needy. Nationwide, expansion programs have crowded out care for the aged, blind, disabled, pregnant women and children.
“Rather than spend Good Friday contemplating one of the most consequential events in history, as most Oklahomans did, expansion supporters engaged in a political stunt. The petition is meant to bluff state lawmakers into passing an expansion program they know is a bad idea. Lawmakers should stick with their gut and continue opposing this plan. The Obamacare Medicaid proposal is a massive expansion of welfare that will add 628,000 able-bodied adults to Oklahoma’s welfare rolls and could put working families on the hook for a state share of $374 million annually.
“Make no mistake, expanding Obamacare in Oklahoma will result in the state seeing the same problems as every other state that has gone down this path. Enrollment levels will be far higher than what expansion supporters predict, at significantly higher costs, to achieve significantly lower outcomes than promised. If you doubt it, just look at states comparable to Oklahoma that expanded Medicaid. Cost overruns in Arkansas have topped $1.4 billion, and Kentucky’s ranking on health outcomes remains low, despite Kentucky spending far more taxpayer money on Medicaid.
“States across the country that have expanded Medicaid have had to resort to tax increases, and the same fate awaits Oklahomans should Medicaid expand. And the growing costs of Medicaid will endanger funding for other government services like education and public safety.
“Furthermore, making a welfare program a constitutional right, regardless of funding changes at the federal level or shifting needs in Oklahoma, is bad policy, and Oklahomans understand this.
“We are confident that significant opposition will rise in the coming days as the serious flaws in this proposal become evident. Rather than expand Medicaid, state lawmakers need to pursue the real solutions already available to address Oklahoma’s health care challenges, protect state and federal taxpayers, and protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens.”