Fallin remains firm on rejecting Medicaid expansion
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Thursday, February 21, 2013
2/27/13 at 1:55 PM
This story originally incorrectly described the number of states that have accepted or are leaning toward accepting Medicaid expansion. The story has been corrected.
With Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Wednesday announcement that he is ready to accept “Obamacare” money to expand Medicaid for at least three year, nearly half the states — representing more than 55 percent of the nation’s population — have either opted into the plan or are leaning that way.
A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said Scott’s decision that Florida couldn’t afford to stay out of the Medicaid expansion doesn’t change her stance that Oklahoma can’t afford to get into it.
“Governor Fallin has made her decision based on what is best for Oklahoma,” spokesman Alex Weintz said. “She does not plan on revisiting the issue.”
Scott’s announcement makes Florida the 25th state apparently headed toward accepting Medicaid expansion, a key element of the Affordable Care Act’s scheme for reducing the number of uninsured Americans.
The federal law would allow anyone in a household earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level — currently $31,322 a year for a family of four — to qualify for Medicaid coverage starting in 2014.
The federal government would pick up 100 percent of the costs of new benefits for the first three years. After that a share of the costs would shift to the states, capping at 10 percent in 2020.
Currently in Oklahoma, only members of specific groups — children, pregnant women, the aged, blind and disabled — can qualify for the federal health care program.
Fallin’s decision not to accept the Medicaid expansion money means about 180,000 poor, uninsured Oklahomans won’t receive health coverage.
She has repeatedly made the point that the federal government would pick up the cost of new benefits but would not pick up additional administrative costs or 100 percent of the benefit costs for people who are already eligible for Medicaid.
Fallin "continues to pursue Oklahoma options for improving health and wellness in the state,” Weintz said. “Additionally, she continues to ask the White House to grant states flexibility to expand state-based programs like Insure Oklahoma.”
Read more in Friday's Tulsa World.