Report shows 1 out of 5 Oklahomans in 2010 received Social Security benefits
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
8/20/12 at 8:31 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans receive federal entitlement benefits, which are a major factor in the state's economy and a safety net against poverty, according to a private group's comprehensive report on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Some 705,364 Oklahomans - 1 in 5 residents - received Social Security benefits in 2010 and 799,885 state residents - 2 in 9 - received Medicaid benefits in 2009, the "Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Work for Oklahoma" report shows.
The report, put out by Strengthen Social Security, a pro-Social Security advocacy group, also shows that 585,617 Oklahomans received Medicare benefits in 2009.
Medicaid and Medicare make up a huge portion of the state's health-care spending - a total of 41 percent, the report shows.
Social Security benefits in the state - totaling $8.9 billion in 2010 - represent 6 percent of the state gross domestic product, the report says.
Some 275,000 Oklahomans would live below the poverty level if it were not for their Social Security benefits.
The report comes out as the state considers a substantial increase in the number of people eligible for Medicaid benefits.
The Affordable Care Act would allow the state to make anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level - $30,657 for a family of four by 2012 standards - eligible for Medicaid benefits. If the state accepts the program expansion - which would be largely paid for with federal funding - some 200,000 additional Oklahomans would be expected to be eligible for Medicaid in 2014. Another 50,000 currently eligible Oklahomans would be expected to sign up for the program at the same time.
The group's report shows that Medicaid is already paying out $3.9 billion in benefits under current standards.
The average expenditure per Medicaid beneficiary was $4,923, the report shows. One out of every 12 Medicaid beneficiaries was at least 65 years old, and two-thirds of the residents of the state's nursing homes were receiving Medicaid benefits, at a cost of $1.3 billion in 2009, the report shows.
During a recent telephone news conference sponsored by Strengthen Social Security, the co-chairwomen of the Congressional Task Force on Seniors said states like Oklahoma should accept the Medicaid expansion proposal.
"This is a great deal for the states," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
"I really can't understand, except for ideological reasons, why any states would turn down what is such a help to the people of the state and such a good deal for the governments," Schakowsky said. "It seems to me cruel to refuse that."
The ACA expansion is a way to make sure that children and senior citizens are assured of the medical support they need, she said.
"I think that those governors around the country who are saying no to this good deal should be shamed by the people in their states."
U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., said a Medicaid expansion would give states a healthy work force and more productive citizens.
"I really don't understand why some states are contemplating not participating," she said. "There is a huge incentive here, and I think the states that are contemplating not participating are making a huge mistake."
Gov. Mary Fallin has said the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable and unworkable and that it should be repealed and replaced by Mitt Romney if he is elected president. She has put off a final decision on the Medicaid expansion until after November's election.
The report also breaks down many of the entitlement statistics on a county basis.
In Tulsa County, 16.8 percent of the population is receiving Social Security with total 2010 benefits of $1.4 billion.
Report: Fewer died with Medicaid expansion
A July report in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that fewer people died when three states expanded their Medicaid programs and provided health care to more people.
The study by Harvard researchers examined what happened when New York, Maine and Arizona expanded Medicaid to cover low-income adults without children or disabilities and compared the results to similar states that did not expand Medicaid.
The number of deaths for people age 20-64 declined in the three states by a total of about 1,500 a year after, adjusting for population growth. In the comparable states, death rates for the same group increased.
The researchers estimated that the Medicaid expansions were linked to a 6.1 percent decline in deaths after the figures were adjusted for age, sex and race.
The decline in deaths was greatest among minorities and people living in poor counties, the study found.
Original Print Headline: Report shows 1 Oklahoman in 5 on Social Security in '10
Wayne Greene (918) 581-8308