The Stitt administration is now talking about expanding Medicaid for working poor Oklahomans as early as this summer with or without potential nuances such as block grant funding, a work requirement or copays.
That’s what Oklahomans have been paying for and what they deserve.
The top Medicaid policy adviser in the Stitt administration is looking to establish a Medicaid program for working-age Oklahomans sooner rather than later.
The state could pay for its share of the 9-to-1 match with an increase in Medicaid provider taxes, although the governor is also interested in using money from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, Deputy Secretary of Health and Mental Health Carter Kimble said.
A few weeks ago, Stitt was in Washington with Trump administration officials talking about Medicaid work requirements, copays and accepting $1 billion a year to fund Medicaid expansion through a block grant. Getting to what Stitt calls SoonerCare 2.0 would take a waiver from federal officials, and that could take a year or more for approval. Depending on what happens in November’s election, it might be rejected.
Stitt is still interested in pursuing them, Kimble said, but, he’s more eager to get Medicaid off the ground first.
There are two excellent reasons why that’s a good idea. It would establish for certain what the state’s costs would be prior to jumping into a block grant program, and it would give the state the huge economic boost of a $1 billion a year stimulus immediately.
We are skeptical about a lot of the additions Stitt has talked about for Medicaid expansion. Given the state’s history on this topic, it’s justified.
But everyone should embrace Stitt’s plan to go ahead as soon as possible with Medicaid expansion, as described in the Affordable Care Act and, more or less, as is in place in 35 others states. Oklahoma has waited long enough, allowed its economy to be stymied long enough, gone without the health care services for which we pay long enough.