According to Mike Fogarty,
CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the uncompensated cost of
treating the uninsured in Oklahoma exceeds $1 billion annually, most of
it paid for by shifting the cost to insured families, while bad debt and
charity care costs hospitals $365 million a year.

estimates that the $1 billion in uncompensated costs would be cut in
half through expansion of Medicaid. He has reportedly said that the
average yearly state investment of $63 million to provide the mandated
coverage will likely see a return on investment of 8 to 1. Because the
feds will pay at least 90 percent of the cost, the state cost per person
is just $32 per month in 2020.

These estimates are in
agreement with those of the Kaiser Foundation, the Lewin Group and the
Urban Institute, all of which estimate that states will have a net
savings of tens of billions of dollars each year.

can’t do the math, so they resort to bizarre fear mongering. U.S. Sen.
Tom Coburn says the $63 million a year in increased cost “will force the
governor and Legislature to raise taxes, raise college tuitions,
decrease the quality of education, or all three.”

Tom needs to get a clue. The conservative Oklahoma Council of Public
Affairs has documented how the state raised more than $200 million in
funds for Medicaid in 2011: The Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment
Program assessed a 2 percent “provider fee” on certain hospitals that
serve Medicaid patients. The revenue from the “fee” was then “used to
match federal funds to increase reimbursements to hospitals that treat
Medicaid patients. Estimates suggest the fee would generate
approximately $118 million in fee revenue and $208.3 million in federal

Translation: The state can raise hospital fees
to pay for expanded coverage ($63 million a year), but the feds now
contribute at least $9 for every state dollar; the hospitals recover the
fee (and a boatload more) through expanded Medicaid spending, and the
state saves $500 million a year in uncompensated costs with no tax
increase whatsoever.

Where’s the beef?

—D.W. Tiffee, Norman

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