| November 14, 2013

Will Oklahoma Expand Medicaid?

In September OCPA played host to more than 750 of our closest friends for the annual meeting of the State Policy Network, the service organization for the nation’s free-market, state-focused think tank community. One of the highlights of the week was hearing from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Not only is Gov. Jindal one of the nation’s leading champions of school choice, he has been a vocal critic of the president’s health law. By refusing to go along with the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, he has reduced future federal spending by billions of dollars. Gov. Jindal and Oklahoma’s own Sen. Tom Coburn recently co-authored an article which made the case that states should not expand Medicaid.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has also said no to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Curiously, though, it appears the door has been left open. For example, executive-branch officials continue to consider the recommendations in the Leavitt report—which, as my colleague Jonathan Small never tires of repeating, is still Obamacare. Moreover, a consultant for Gov. Fallin’s re-election campaign—who is also a consultant for entities promoting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion—is on the record saying Gov. Fallin “hasn’t slammed the door either. If it were dead on arrival we wouldn’t be taking our time and energy to do this.”

All of which causes conservatives to spend time and energy battling the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, while continuing to give liberals hope that Gov. Fallin could, come 2014 or 2015, choose to embrace it.

Oklahoma policymakers must continue to stand firm. For as Gov. Jindal says, “This argument over Medicaid expansion is more than a fight about the Left’s desire for a single-payer health care system, it’s more than a fight about dollars and cents, and it’s more than a fight about expanding a program that already delivers subpar outcomes. Rather, the fight over Medicaid expansion is a microcosm of this president’s push towards centralized government control. We are day by day giving up more and more of our freedoms to an ever larger and more powerful government.”


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