Oklahoma voters took a historic step and nudged their state forward toward becoming the 38th in the nation (including Washington, DC) to provide residents more affordable health insurance through their Medicaid program. The constitutional amendment passed by voters requires the state to open the doors to coverage no later than July 1, 2021. State leaders have been debating Medicaid expansion for years but will hopefully move quickly to implement coverage now that voters have spoken.
Estimates are that the expansion will cover at least 215,000 additional state residents with affordable health coverage. The next steps are to get a funding mechanism passed by the legislature while the Governor and relevant agencies must move forward with securing federal approval and set up plans to start enrolling those who need coverage.
However, in recent weeks, opponents of more affordable health coverage options for residents through voter-approved expansion – including Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt – have complained that the 10% match the state must pay to bring the 90% federal funding into the state is somehow unaffordable and unattainable. The paucity of this argument springs into sharp relief to any voter with a memory longer than Oklahoma’s beautiful state bird, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
After all, just over a month ago, Oklahoma’s legislature worked with the Governor to easily pass a comprehensive funding plan for the Governor’s version of Medicaid expansion (which, changing his mind midstream, the Governor promptly vetoed). How quickly legislators have forgotten their own legislative success! Perhaps this new legislative opposition stems from the fact that now voters have approved a Medicaid expansion plan that can’t be changed or eliminated on a whim. And given the roller-coaster history of the Medicaid expansion debate in Oklahoma, voters have every right to be suspicious.
While the vote is over and Oklahoma voters have directed their elected representatives to expand Medicaid, the history of opposition to expansion provides some key points to watch going forward: Read more
North Carolina’s Senator Burr used to be a fan of NC’s Medicaid program. In fact, he presented NC Medicaid with a national award for delivering great care and containing costs just last year. Then came the Affordable Care Act and the decision NC has to make about expanding Medicaid coverage using federal dollars to low-income people. Now Senator Burr thinks NC’s Medicaid program is just terrible – and he has a simple fix! Just require people on Medicaid to have a primary care doctor and a medical home. Whoops – Senator Burr, NC’s Medicaid program does that already and has for years assigned people on Medicaid to a primary care doc and printed the name and number on the back of each person’s Medicaid card. I know the game in Washington DC is to just make up your own facts to fit your current argument, but please don’t try that back here at home. Watch:
US Senator Burr is the star witness at the NC General Assembly’s “bash the Affordable Care Act” here at UNC Greensboro today. Unfortunately Burr, described as “the foremost authority on health care in the Senate” by one of the legislators here, is making some pretty big mistakes in his testimony. Amazingly, these mistakes just happen to contribute to his attack on the Affordable Care Act:
1. Burr, in explaining his opposition to NC taking the federal money to expand the NC Medicaid program, suggests that NC Medicaid program doesn’t require beneficiaries to be assigned a primary care doctor. He says if he could change the NC Medicaid program for the better he would require every beneficiary to be assigned to a primary care provider. Earth to Burr: NC’s Medicaid program already does that. From NC Medicaid’s website:
CCNC/CA is North Carolina’s Medicaid program. It provides you with a medical home and a primary care provider (PCP) who will coordinate your medical care.
As a CCNC/CA member, you are eligible for all the services that Medicaid covers. Being a member also has the following advantages:
You can choose a medical home with a primary doctor. A medical home can be chosen for each family member. Your local County Department of Social Services (DSS) office has a complete list of participating doctors. If you do not choose a medical home, you will be automatically assigned to one.
You can call your primary doctor day or night for medical advice. Check your Medicaid ID card for your doctor’s daytime and after-hours phone numbers.
After 17 years at the North Carolina Justice Center I’m finally going to be leaving. I am joining Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families (CCF) at the McCourt Center for Public Policy in DC. Luckily I’ll be doing the much of the same work with CCF that I’ve done here in North Carolina but this time working with states around the country to continue Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
The Center for Children and Families is a great organization I’ve had the pleasure to work with for many years, most recently on their innovative project to take what we learned here in North Carolina about using video in the nonprofit world to many other states. I thought I would always be here at the Justice Center but this opportunity is simply too exciting and the ability to help expand health coverage for many, many more low income people is too important to pass up. Living my values is one of the great privileges of my job here at the Justice Center and I’m excited to continue to work for equity in health care for families in all states around our country – an outcome that is long overdue.
[You can read the CCF announcement about my hiring here. ]
Be assured however that I will continue to push for reform here in North Carolina. My work with all my colleagues here at the Justice Center has highlighted the big changes necessary in our state. Not only do we need to finish the job and expand Medicaid using federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act, but the recent changes to our tax system that shift the burden to middle and lower income families are unconscionable as well as the current assault on our teachers and educational institutions. The Justice Center is a force for opportunity and change in the Old North State and I look forward to continuing to work with my friends here as a partner as I begin a new role.
So, while my job may be changing, my commitment and the work I do will not. It’s been a great 17 years. I look forward to the next challenge.
While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to the latest polling from Gallup, the uninsured rate is dropping about three times faster in states that have expanded Medicaid, set up a state health exchange and generally embraced the Affordable Care Act as opposed to states (like NC) that are dragging their feet. Real world consequences should be expected when politicians put bashing Obama ahead of what’s best for their constituents. How embarrassing for North Carolina.