Capitol Correspondence - 06.02.20

Oklahoma Forgoes Medicaid Expansion, Continues Applying for Medicaid Block Grants

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ANCOR has been monitoring the issue of Medicaid block grants because of the dangerous precedent it sets for how Medicaid is administered and how funds are managed across Medicaid programs, with the potential of one program being funded at the expense of another. As reported by Politico Pro:

“Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is calling off a planned expansion of Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income adults this summer, the state’s health agency confirmed to POLITICO.

In March, Stitt informed CMS his state would expand Medicaid on July 1, but the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has asked CMS to withdraw the plan, said agency spokesperson Jonathan Cannon on Thursday.

‘Without adequate and sustainable funding, the state will not expand Medicaid to the adult group on July 1, 2020,’ Cannon wrote in an email to POLITICO.

The move comes a week after Stitt vetoed a bill that would have helped pay for expansion, contending it didn’t provide long-term funding for the program. The legislation was expected to raise about $134 million through a temporary increase of a hospital fee.

Stitt also indicated the cost of expanding Medicaid would be higher than originally anticipated because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The state’s unemployment rate was 3.2 percent when the Medicaid plan was first announced, but is now projected to be as high as 14 percent, Stitt wrote in his veto message.

‘This will not only increase the number of individuals currently enrolled in Medicaid, but will also increase the number of potential enrollees in the expanded population,’ Stitt wrote.

The move doesn’t entirely kill the possibility of Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma. Voters will decide June 30 on a ballot measure to expand Medicaid while effectively barring conservative changes to the program, like work requirements.

Stitt is still seeking the Trump administration’s approval to expand Medicaid with the program’s first-ever spending caps. The federal government this week formally opened up a 30-day public comment period on the block grant plan.”