MEDICAID EXPANSION RALLY HEALTH CARE (copy) (copy)

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced his Medicaid 2.0 program at a Thursday press conference with key Trump administration health policy leaders. There is a better option: State Question 802. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman file

We were disappointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt’s announcement that he was buying into a Medicaid block grant program that will give working poor Oklahomans less than they deserve, less than people in other states are getting and less than Oklahoma taxpayers are paying for.

Stitt announced his SoonerCare 2.0 program Thursday at a Washington news conference with key Trump administration health policy leaders.

There is a better option. State Question 802 would bring about $1 billion a year in federal Medicaid funding to the state to help deal with the state’s overwhelming number of uninsured adults.

Oklahoma’s long-running refusal to accept the money has hobbled rural hospitals, stunted economic growth and left working poor Oklahomans sick and unable to improve their lot in life.

Stitt’s announcement tacitly acknowledges the foolishness of that policy. He now wants the state to accept a capped portion of the federal Medicaid expansion funding.

What happens if more Oklahomans legitimately need more health care than can be funded with the federal block grant? Who knows. What we do know is that the federal government won’t be there, as it is in every other Medicaid expansion state.

Stitt’s program backs mean-spirited policies that seem to be designed to prevent people from getting medical care that they need, deserve and could get in other states. That includes work requirements, premiums and other out-of-pocket charges, bureaucratic reporting requirements and substandard care.

That’s a combination of failed ideas that have been shot down by courts, have no basis in law and are based on a moral judgment on people based solely on their poverty. In short, the Stitt plan sets the stage for years of litigation that will only further delay health care for needy Oklahomans.

There is no legitimate reason why Oklahoma shouldn’t accept Medicaid expansion as described in the Affordable Care Act, the way it is available to the vast majority of Americans.

Stitt’s SoonerCare 2.0 plan is better than things are now, but far short of what Oklahomans deserve and are already paying for.


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