Health Care

Years of Warnings Unheeded on Medicaid

May 11, 2016

Trent England

The entire state budget is under pressure, including Medicaid and other medical welfare programs. Unlike many other programs, however, the unsustainable path of Medicaid is no surprise. In fact, OCPA has warned about the costs and called for reforms for years.

In 2012, we parsed the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Oklahoma Health Care Authority enrollment data to help lawmakers understand the financial and human costs of growing dependence on Medicaid. We called attention to a report by the State Budget Crisis Task Force warning of unsustainable growth of Medicaid costs crowding out priorities like education.

The following year, two OCPA research fellows provided a county-level look at Medicaid growth in Oklahoma. We also pointed out that not all Medicaid recipients are poor and called on OHCA to focus resources on those with the greatest need.

In 2014, we praised Gov. Fallin for her strong stand against Medicaid expansion and explained how special interests blocked Medicaid improvements. Just last year, OCPA reminded lawmakers of the rising costs and again called for Medicaid reform. We also showed that while many health care costs keep going up, some have gone down, suggesting that there really is a better way forward on health policy.

The unsustainable path of Medicaid is no surprise. Whatever policymakers do, they should not adopt a plan like the “Rebalancing Act” that is simply more of the same, with higher costs and greater reliance on promises of federal funds.