While voters were agreeing last week to raise $150 million to invest in health care services in Oklahoma, the federal government was quietly slashing matching funds, which jeopardizes healthcare coverage for more than 100,000 Oklahomans, State Senator-elect Tom Adelson said Friday.
Adelson called on the state’s congressional delegation to intervene by demanding that the Department of Health and Human Services restore the state’s federal matching funds for Medicaid.
“Oklahoma’s Senators and Congressmen need to go to bat for their most vulnerable constituents – the children, the elderly in nursing homes, the blind and disabled,” said Adelson, the incoming chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Social Services.
The cut in federal matching funds is the result of a reduction in the state’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage or FMAP.
FMAP is the percentage of Medicaid costs funded by the federal government. Oklahoma’s percentage had been 70.18 percent but will be slashed to 67.91 percent in the next federal fiscal year. The cut in Oklahoma’s percentage was the fourth largest in the country. Regionally, Texas and Colorado received virtually no cut, and Missouri increased its FMAP.
“A 2.27 percent reduction may not sound like much, but it will mean a reduction in Medicaid funding of more than $220 million in our state. That’s one of the largest per capita cuts in the country, and more than twice the largest cut in the history of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program,” said Adelson.
Adelson further noted that the federal government continues to provide disproportionate assistance to Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico. These states receive, on average, $1,200 more in federal matching dollars for each Medicaid enrollee than Oklahoma. “We are missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of promised federal dollars earmarked for healthcare. That places an enormous strain on our hospitals and doctors,” the Senator-elect said.
Adelson, who previously served as Governor Henry’s Secretary of Health, said the effects of the federal cuts would be felt everywhere in Oklahoma, including his district. The cost in Tulsa County could be a $28.81 million decrease in Medicaid services. In Oklahoma County it will result in a $31.35 million Medicaid loss.
“What kind of message is Washington trying to send? Oklahomans agreed to raise the state’s tobacco tax to expand health care services in our state and decrease the number of uninsured. The result of this federal cut will actually increase the number of Oklahomans without health care coverage. We have a real struggle now to protect healthcare funding for 90,000 children, 4,500 pregnant women and 6,500 elderly, blind and disabled Oklahomans,” Adelson said.
Oklahoma could off-set the FMAP decrease by pumping another $65 million in state funds into Medicaid, Adelson said.
“Voters approved the tobacco tax last week to expand health care services in our state, not fill a hole in Medicaid created by the federal government. Our congressional delegation should demand that the federal government preserve its matching fund levels,” Adelson said.