The Tulsa World editorial “Poorer and sicker" (Sept. 17) compared Oklahoma’s uninsured rates to that in Arkansas in an effort to raise support for Medicaid expansion here in Oklahoma.
The Arkansas uninsured rate dropped from 19.8% in 2008 to 8.2% today, due to Medicaid expansion. That’s the good news.
What the World editorial doesn’t say is that spending on Arkansas' Medicaid program increased by about 44.5% between fiscal years 2012 and 2016. Yes, the federal government paid 78% of the cost of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas using our tax dollars.
But Arkansas citizens had to pay their share totaling the 44% increase, raising total Medicaid expenses to 25.5% of their total state budget.
In Oklahoma we already pay 24% of our state budget to Medicaid expenses. Can we afford to pay our part of a Medicaid expansion if it were to increase our expenditures by 40% plus?
Is that a realistic expectation given our already stretched state budget?
David Nowland, Owasso
Editor’s Note: The Arkansas Nonprofit News Network reports the Arkansas share of its $8.1 billion Medicaid program this year is $1.3 billion. Of that, most will go toward traditional Medicaid groups, and the expansion group will cost about $135 million in state revenue next year. Arkansas accepted Medicaid expansion in 2013 with backing from Gov. Mike Huckabee. The previous year, the state’s Medicaid program cost $4.6 billion with $691.6 million from the state’s general revenue, according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services 2012 Medicaid report. As a result of economic expansion associated with Medicaid expansion, Arkansas was able to cut taxes, including a significant cut in the sales tax on groceries.
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