Oklahoma House Advances Plan That Could Make Medicaid Expansion a Nearly County-By-County Decision

Mar 14, 2019

Credit Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma House has approved a bill to let counties band together and potentially expand Medicaid at the local level.

House Bill 1750 would let contiguous counties form a Local Hospital and Health Care District. Districts could use federally approved existing revenue sources like property taxes to pursue additional funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to support their hospitals.

Districts could also apply to expand Medicaid eligibility, but voters must approve a new tax to pay for their portion.

"If the locality puts on the ballot that they want to increase ad valorem tax or sales tax, they can then take that money, run it through the health care authority and get a nine-to-one match on it at CMS," said Rep. Marcus McEntire. "So, it allows localities to increase access to health care in their locality."

Districts could also go through the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to apply for waivers used by some states to impose Medicaid work requirements.

Rep. Regina Goodwin asked the pointed question.

"Wouldn’t Medicaid expansion be a better path than trying to piecemeal this thing together?" Goodwin said.

The legislature is also considering a Senate bill to try securing Medicaid funds to expand a state program offering subsidies for private insurance.

The title is off both bills, meaning they cannot become laws in their current form.