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February 28, 2013

Fallin says no plan to revisit Medicaid rejection

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she has no plans to revisit her decision to reject an expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma, saying instead she wants the federal government to give policymakers in the state the flexibility to develop their own plan for improving the health of its citizens.

Despite repeated calls from Democrats for Fallin to reverse her decision, the Republican governor reiterated her position that the Medicaid expansion would ultimately prove too costly to the state.
“I don’t think we can afford it, and I’ve laid out my position on that,” Fallin said during an interview with The Associated Press. “I have asked a consultant to analyze our options for being able to provide the best health care service in the state of Oklahoma and how we run our Medicaid system.”
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state agency that oversees the Medicaid program, issued a $500,000 consulting contract with Utah-based Leavitt Partners to analyze and make recommendations for developing an Oklahoma-based plan for increasing health insurance coverage in the state.
Although the federal government has agreed to pay the full cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years of the program, the OHCA projects a state cost of more than $7 million a year to administer the program for the first three years. By the time the state picks up 10 percent of the cost of the expansion in 2020, the OHCA estimates an annual cost of $65 million to the state if all of the 200,000 eligible uninsured Oklahomans were to participate in the program.
Fallin, who said she spoke Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, said she urged Sebelius to consider giving states more flexibility to develop their own plans or perhaps partner with other states to meet the health care needs of citizens.

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