Medicaid Expansion in Oklahoma – Will SoonerCare 2.0 Be Successful?

 

Oklahoma Governor Stitt vetoed a funding bill for SoonerCare 2.0. The state had proposed the program before the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently learned that expanding Medicaid would cost more than initially estimated. The Governor’s veto stymied this bill. If this bill passes, the state will likely become the first in the nation to expand Medicaid. But will it be successful? What are the benefits of expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma?
Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma

When it comes to Medicaid expansion, the first thing you should know about this plan is that it is not free. While it costs an extra $786 million a year, it is still affordable for the state of Oklahoma. The estimated number of uninsured Oklahomans who would shift onto Medicaid is around 70-130,000. But that is not all. The expansion would create 48,000 new Medicaid-insured residents, according to Families USA, and would generate $500 million in federal funding and potentially 5,500 new jobs.

Earlier this year, Stitt looked as though he was on the brink of accepting Medicaid expansion. As part of his SoonerCare 2.0 plan, he planned to implement the expansion beginning in July and seek a federal waiver to transition to a block-grant model. However, the plan came with work requirements and required enrollees to pay an additional $120 in premiums. But lawmakers backed the plan and passed bills that increased hospital provider fees to pay for the projected $164 million state share.

While many state elected officials were against the plan, it was ultimately favored by voters. Question 802 was on the 2020 ballot, and it passed narrowly despite opposition from many state leaders. It will now be implemented on July 1, 2021. And because it is a constitutional amendment, it will supersed previous statutory Medicaid expansion plans put in place by Gov. Stitt. The question is expected to be on the June primary ballot, the August primary runoff ballot, and the November general election.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has the responsibility of using federal funds to implement Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma. In order to get federal approval for the program, the authority must submit the necessary documents. Then, OHCA will begin accepting applications. The deadline is July 1st, but Oklahomans can apply for Medicaid expansion a month early. This will allow those who qualify to get insurance for the extra month. If Medicaid expansion is approved, it could benefit more than two hundred thousand Oklahomans.

Currently, the state of Oklahoma has an uninsured rate of 14.2%, higher than that of the neighboring state of Texas. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, the number of uninsured Oklahomans could increase by 50,000. By implementing Medicaid expansion, Oklahoma is becoming the first state to implement COVID-19 pandemic while battling the uninsured epidemic. However, the lack of insurance has fueled a massive increase in unemployment and the number of jobless people is also rising.

The expansion of Medicaid has created significant benefits for the low-income adult population. It has helped reduce barriers to accessing health care and other services for the homeless. It has also reduced the burden on the state’s business community. The expansion of Medicaid will not only benefit the individual, but the state’s economy as a whole. The economy will benefit because fewer workers will be locked out of the workforce because of financial constraints. This means a healthier, more stable workforce.
Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma under Stitt’s proposal

Governor Kevin Stitt seemed poised earlier this year to accept Medicaid expansion under his SoonerCare 2.0 plan. The plan, which he has since scrapped, included a federal waiver for block-grant Medicaid expansion, work requirements, and premiums of up to $120 a year. Despite this, lawmakers were quick to support the governor’s plan and passed a number of bills supporting it, including one that increased hospital provider fees.

While many of these proposals have a complicated history, the basic premise of the Stitt plan is to expand Medicaid in the state by bringing insurance companies into the program. While this may sound like an unworkable idea, the proposal is not without its benefits. The plan would shift $2 billion in Medicaid funding to private insurance companies, which would coordinate low-income Oklahomans’ care. Although the plan would increase state funding, it would still cost Oklahoma consumers an additional $1 billion per year.

But it’s not that simple. The bill has several flaws. Initially, Stitt’s plan would have sought a federal waiver to move to a block-grant model. It would have required many enrollees to pay premiums. Still, hospital leaders backed the bill, which also included a 2.5% to 4% increase in hospital fees. This proposal was not a perfect fit, and the governor’s plan had some major flaws.

In the end, though, a successful expansion of Medicaid would mean a dramatic decrease in the uninsured rate in Oklahoma. The expanded coverage would also strengthen the state’s hospitals. After all, the U.S. government has subsidized the cost of expanding Medicaid in 37 other states and Washington, D.C., and the federal government already provides $1.5 billion in federal funds for the program.

The state’s opposition to Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma has echoed the same argument made by opponents of the plan. In 2012, Governor Mary Fallin said that she would not support Medicaid expansion. After the state legislature failed to seriously consider the issue for seven years, the question was put to voters in a ballot initiative. Ultimately, the majority of Oklahoma voters supported the initiative. So, now the question is how to pay for it?

In addition to the uninsured rate, the state has also seen an increase in job losses. The state saw a spike in unemployment during the early stages of the pandemic. In April 2022, more than 1.2 million Oklahomans were enrolled in SoonerCare, up from only 798,000 in 2013. With a COVID-19 pandemic spreading throughout the country, the number of uninsured people in Oklahoma could increase by up to 50,000. In addition, this is the first state to approve Medicaid expansion while the pandemic is still going on. As a result, 47.5 million people may not be able to receive employer-based health insurance for the rest of their lives.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” aims to expand Medicaid for low-income adults with or without dependent children. The Affordable Care Act requires states to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion if they meet certain requirements. In addition to the aforementioned requirements, states must also offer coverage to able-bodied adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. According to AMA’s Advocacy Update newsletter, the federal waivers only apply to people under the age of 65 without dependent children.
Medicaid expansion under Stitt’s proposal

Whether the state will expand Medicaid eligibility under Stitt’s proposal remains to be seen. The governor’s proposal would have expanded Medicaid eligibility by writing it into the state constitution, bypassing the route taken by the Trump administration. It would also disallow premiums and work requirements. But he hasn’t set a specific date for the election. What is clear is that Medicaid expansion will be costly for Missouri taxpayers.

While many conservatives pushed against expansion, Stitt’s plan has bipartisan support. Many voters in Oklahoma support the idea, which is a proven way to increase access to health care. But Republicans in the state’s legislature oppose Medicaid expansion, so the governor put forth his own plan for the program, which would have begun on July 1. He intended to put the Medicaid expansion on the ballot without a voter referendum.

The plan was defeated in the House because it would have limited Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, and its implementation would be rushed. But that’s not enough, and it isn’t clear whether it will pass at all. The governor has also rejected proposals to increase the federal funding cap on Medicaid. Despite the fact that the plan was rejected, it has prompted the state to reconsider its position. And the Legislature should consider the Governor’s plan. Its failure could jeopardize the state’s efforts to improve health care.

But despite the challenges facing Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, Democrats have vowed to challenge the Trump administration’s block-grant model. While the Arkansas ruling was affirmed by a federal appeals court, that ruling may be challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. If that happens, the federal government could reject Oklahoma’s Medicaid expansion waiver. That would virtually guarantee derailment of the plan. The next president of the United States would have a skewed view and reject the Oklahoma proposal.

Missouri’s medical marijuana-related initiative is putting Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2020. While it may not pass in the primary election, the initiative was validated and put on the 2020 ballot. However, the initiative has been delayed by the organizing committee and is a good candidate for the governor’s endorsement. But in the meantime, Missouri voters will have to decide whether they want to make it or not. If the expansion passes, the state’s Medicaid program will be expanded by a majority of voters.

One of the main benefits of Medicaid expansion is that it reduces out-of-pocket health care costs for low-income families. By reducing health care costs for families and allowing more access to health care, Medicaid expansion is likely to boost income. Further, it will provide a boost for incomes and increase access to primary care. The cost-benefit ratio is a major motivating factor. Moreover, Medicaid expansion improves the overall health of low-income households and children.