Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage issued the following comments in response to the release of the healthcare report produced for the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority by the Leavitt Partners.
“We just wasted $500,000 in taxpayer dollars to learn what we already knew – the only way to provide health insurance to Oklahomans currently covered by Medicaid is to take the federal dollars being offered to us to expand the program,” said Burrage, D-Claremore. “We have also wasted two years scoring political points and thumbing our noses at the Obama administration when we could already have a model program up and running that could be an example for the nation.
“The alternative to accepting federal funds proposed in this report provides premium assistance to some poor Oklahomans using state funds. But, buried in the report is the fact that, according to Jackson-Hewitt, even if 75 percent of those people can then afford to buy coverage through the healthcare exchange, the potential employer tax penalty in Oklahoma could range from $35 million to $52.6 million annually. So, even the best idea that doesn’t take federal dollars to expand Medicaid will result in a de facto $35 to $52.6 million tax on Oklahoma small businesses. That doesn’t seem like much of an option to me.
“We’ve wasted enough time and money on this issue. The time to act is now and, clearly, we must accept the federal funding and expand Medicaid using the tax dollars hard working Oklahomans are already sending to Washington.”