March 13th, 2014
As part of the Together Oklahoma coalition, OK Policy has developed four top priority issues for this year’s Legislative session. These priorities have been identified as practical, politically achievable steps to move us toward lasting, broad-based prosperity.
One of these priorities is to expand health coverage.
Oklahomans get sicker, die sooner, and go without much needed medical care more than almost everyone else in the nation. But today we have a huge opportunity to save lives by expanding health coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income workers and their families, at little cost to the state.
If Oklahoma covers health benefits for Oklahomans making up to 138 percent of the poverty level, we can access billions in federal funds to cover the cost. While many states are using these funds to expand Medicaid, the federal government has also shown flexibility with states like Arkansas and Iowa that are developing a private option. Oklahoma already has a great model to make this happen with the successful Insure Oklahoma program.
Accepting the funds would be a huge boost to Oklahoma’s economy. Besides receiving billions in federal health care dollars, we would dramatically improve the health and financial security of the state’s workforce. Expanding health coverage is especially important for hard-working Oklahomans who we interact with on a daily basis — restaurant, fast food and retail workers, construction workers, and those who work with our children and assist our aging loved ones.