Gov. Fallin blames Obama for Oklahoma’s Medicaid cuts. The real reason is closer to home.

President Barack Obama greets Governor Mary Fallin at Tinker Air Force Base.
President Barack Obama greets Governor Mary Fallin at Tinker Air Force Base.

Earlier this year, we warned that Oklahoma risked deep cuts to our state’s health care safety net if we didn’t increase state funding for Medicaid and mental health services. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers Medicaid, needed $90 million and the Department of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services needed $20.9 million in new funding just to maintain existing services.

Instead, lawmakers budgeted flat funding for the Health Care Authority and just $2.2 million in new funding for mental health. As a result, Oklahoma has slashed Medicaid doctor reimbursements, hiked copayments for Medicaid patients, and reduced eligibility for services. Families who stand to lose behavioral health rehabilitation services have spoken out about the cuts. In response, Governor Fallin responded with a statement blaming President Obama. Governor Fallin’s spokesman Alex Weintz said:

Where the Department of Mental Health (as well as the Department of Human Services) did lose funding, however, was in the form of federal FMAP funds. Unfortunately, President Obama’s decision to cut Oklahoma’s FMAP funds may reduce services in mental health as well as health services for poor Oklahomans.

Yet President Obama does not control Oklahoma’s FMAP funds. The FMAP, or Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, is a formula that determines federal contributions to state Medicaid programs. The mechanism governing the FMAP has been the same since 1965, long before the Affordable Care Act or any other changes under President Obama. Instead, the recent decrease in FMAP funds for Oklahoma is entirely due to a sprightly state economy.

FMAP matching funds for states are based on a formula that compares state per capita income to the national average. California, which has a relatively high per capita income, has a 50 percent match rate; Mississippi, which has a relatively low per capita income, has a 73.58 percent match. When state economies improve and per capita incomes rise, the FMAP formula assumes that the state is less in need of federal assistance and drops the matching rate accordingly. That’s why Oklahoma’s matching funds for Medicaid dropped from 64.02 percent to 62.30 percent this year.

Oklahoma’s economy is doing well. The reason we are cutting services for some of our most vulnerable families, even during these good economic times, has nothing to do with President Obama and everything to do with Oklahoma leaders’ mismanagement of the state budget.

The federal government assumes Oklahoma has the resources to take care of our own – but we aren’t doing it. Instead, we’re failing to plan for the future, extending unnecessary tax breaks, approving unwise tax cuts, and refusing federal funds that would dramatically improve health coverage for low-income Oklahomans.

The President no doubt makes for an attractive scapegoat. Unfortunately, this is a catastrophe that can’t be blamed elsewhere.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

17 thoughts on “Gov. Fallin blames Obama for Oklahoma’s Medicaid cuts. The real reason is closer to home.

    1. Mary’s got to go!!! She is a crony just like’s been said! Great exposure of a very complex issue! Thanks 4 helping me to gain some insight @ the manor fallout from her self-serving actions!!!

  1. I guess we are all just a bunch of dumb rednecks that are too stupid to know any better or take the time to find out?? WRONG MARY!!!! We are educated, intelligent people who know what you did, and why. You are bought and paid for by the Koch bros, and you make the middle class and poor pay the price. ENOUGH of you. We aren’t all that dumb.

  2. This is why I left Oklahoma. Two years ago, she had the opportunity to expand Medicaid with federal assistance, and opted instead to pass legislation to prevent it, while also having the DOI spread propaganda about how the ACA ‘really worked.’ How do I know? I work in the industry. This woman effectively prevented thousands of otherwise qualifying Oklahomans from receiving affordable and much needed care in a state that is 46th in the country in health care. Why is the ACA viewed as a bad thing? Red states with conservative politicians that are going to these lengths to block it so they can blame the Obama administration for it…good riddance, Fallin. Thankfully, you’ll never make it to the Northwest.

  3. “Obamacare is not resulting in more people being insured, more people being cared for, lowered costs, keeping our doctors or plans, or anything else we were promised. What it is becoming, however, is the biggest bait and switch this country has ever seen.

    As fewer people seek care due to rising out of pocket costs, and patients have their treatment delayed as they search for a new doctor because their current physician isn’t in their plan, this atrocious law could bankrupt this nation and literally kill Americans.”
    ~ via the Washington Times, one of the nation’s most respected newspapers.

    Jonathan Turley, liberal law professor at Georgetown University, has called Obama the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid.

    But as a response to this post, Fallin needs to go.

    1. I disagree with Turley and the Washington Times. Could it be better? Of course, but this is a beginning and many people have benefited. What would help if the rich and the right-wing conservatives cared about anyone other than themselves. Of course, what they don’t get is when a majority suffer they are going to suffer to. It has already begun but they are not smart enough to realize it.

      I will add that there are other respectable news outlets and respectable professors of law and economics who agree that it is a start which we needed. I have no CLUE what Turley means by “Obama” or “Obamacare” being the danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That makes no sense to me. Does he feel the same way about LBJ and/or medicare? I do not mean this sound personally negative or negative at all, just that I do not agree.

      OF COURSE, I agree that Fallin needs to go. 🙂

  4. The sad state of affairs in Oklahoma begins with Fallin and goes into other state agencies. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services continues year after year to ask for MILLIONS for service delivery yet they continue to cut programs refuse to hire individuals with lived experience – continue to check boxes on grants that are mainly ‘talk’ not ‘walk’ results and the money shuffle continues. WE HAVE TO CLEAN UP OUR leadership in Oklahoma and begin with getting Fallin out! At least have her do a drug ua!

  5. name correction “wood” not “qood” Having watched the state agencies refuse to serve the citizens of this state for 3 decades I am still hoping we all pull together and take back our state to OUR standards as citizens!

    Once we reform the top leadership we can help the department of corrections as they overhaul their very needy system! Get the non-violent offenders back home to help take care of the 8,000 children now in foster care because we lock up their parents instead of community sentencing!

  6. Have lived in six states due to transfers and this is the worst Governor and Legislature I have ever seen. One of those Governors was Dukakis of MA who I didn’t think anyone could be worse but I was wrong – Fallin is a lot worse. Not taking federal funds to set up exchanges for Oklahomans should make them ineligible for office as they put the wishes of the wealthy donors/ALEC over the people of Oklahoma. Yet these same GOP supported Mitt Romney who brought almost the same version of ACA to MA and that’s okay because he was a white male Republican Governor not a minority Democrat President who the GOP has a problem with on anything he says they will take the opposite view. Some of the MA people who helped write the MA bill helped write the ACA for the Federal Government. In the 90’s Heritage and GOP were in favor of what is now the ACA but because today it was an idea of President Obama and the Democrats, they are now against it — makes no sense but then today’s Republican Party is so hard right they make little to no sense as they are filled with hateful rhetoric out of GOP officials at all levels toward this President.

    GOP Governor and members of the Leiglsature spin (lie) frequenly to avoid taking full responsibility for their actions. GOP taking over the legislature has turned into a nightmare. When are the people of Oklahoma going to wake up that the GOP is costing this state millions of dollars and if they keep it up with their antiquated ideas, it will be in the billions if not already. Never saw anything like this before where social issues and anything oil and gas wants trumps what is best for all Oklahomans. But then I have never lived in a State where ALEC runs the Governor, the Legislature, and the Republican Party.

    How much money has the Attorney General cost the taxpayers of Oklahoma with his ridiculous lawsuits against ACA. Tossing Common Core with wanting the legislature involved is beyond my comprehension just like cutting funds for education and pushing charter schools run by donors. Jeb Bush comes to town and he gets a tour of a charter school not a public school speaks volumes. I stayed GOP through the primary so I could vote against Barresi who has been the worst State School Superintendent of any I have seen or have heard about from friends across the Country.

    On 1 Sep I leave the GOP where I have voted and supported its candidates my whole adult life with countless hours working to elect Republicans. This is not the party of Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln — this is the party of greed and hateful rhetoric run by the ‘my way or no way’ group of people from the hard right who believe only they have the answers and the rest of us must follow along and not think independently. Been in dust ups with the hard right for years — it is a pleasure to come over to the side of people who think for themselves and want what is best for all Americans not just the privileged. Sorry for my rant!

  7. If you want her out you must VOTE and make sure others vote her out. Otherwise she is on track for an EASY 2nd term win! Her “leadership” is causing major problems for people within our state. I thought she’d be more bipartisan but she just isn’t. The only way to fix it is to know your vote counts and vote her out!!!!!

  8. Fallin has lied her way from LT. Governor to Governor. I will never see how she was elected by the so called Christians in Oklahoma. She had an affair with a highway patrol officer while she was LT. Governor. She tried to blame her ex for sexually abusing their daughter but wasn’t too concerned when she was leaving her at home constantly while she was out having sex with the highway patrol man. He had to resign from his position while she became governor. Oklahoma is the 2nd worse state in the US to live in because of Fallin and her fellow republicans. They have destroyed Oklahoma. I have lived here all my life and my town is no. 4 for the highest crime in the US. We have high crime, very low wages, high spousal and child abuse, high school dropouts and high number of unwed teenage mothers. We had a program that would monitor at risk babies but of course our state got rid of that program. Maybe that is why we have such a high number of babies and kids being killed yearly. Our education system is also ranked as one of the worse but look what we have to offer. A teacher here has to work 25 years to make 45,000. The police officers don’t get paid much better and our Mayor is saying that they receive too many benefits because of the Union. What he really wants to do is to get rid of the union. There is no way I would go to college and get a degree and then get paid 32,900 to put my life on the line every time I went to work. One thing Oklahoma does is to give the oil and gas companies that use vertical drilling which uses fracking around 300 million a year in tax breaks. They only pay a 1 percent tax while horizontal drillers are paying 7 percent. We have thousands of wells in Oklahoma now and we have more earthquakes than California. People don’t seem to know that fracking was started in 1947 but at that time they only drilled down 200 ft compared to the thousands of feet they drill down now. Of course republicans don’t think it has anything to do with our frequent earthquakes.

  9. Gov Failing, Jeeze , Yeah old ..President Obama is directly responsible for every bad thing that has happened in world since he crucified Jesus.

  10. She is only concerned with making a dollar at the poor and disabled backs of Oklahomans. Funny, her huge oil and gas perks went in the toilet. Now all of the sudden she is being non compliant with federal law and stripping over 100,000 Oklahomans of life saving care ?

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