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Gov. Fallin Declines the Expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma: A Reaction from the OK Policy Institute

On this installment of ST, we are discussing Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's recent decision not to join the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. This decision rejects billions in federal aid for our state, yet in a statement on Monday of this week, Fallin said: "Such an expansion would be unaffordable, costing the state of Oklahoma up to $475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years." It's already become a widely debated issue; the expansion of Medicaid to include a greater number of people in this state would have provided insurance to many uninsured, low-income citizens. Our guest is Kate Richey, a policy analyst with the non-profit, non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute, a think tank that's been highly critical of Fallin's decision. Indeed, as David Blatt, the director of this institute, has written recently on the Oklahoma Policy Institute website: "Governor Fallin's decision not to expand the Medicaid program to cover uninsured low-income adults is deeply troubling and unfortunate, putting politics over the interests of Oklahomans. We are missing a vital opportunity to improve the health of our citizens, bolster the financial situation of our health care providers, and strengthen our state economy. If we do not expand Medicaid, some 150,000 low-income uninsured Oklahomans will be stuck in a 'coverage crater,' earning too little to qualify for subsidized coverage through the health insurance exchanges that the Affordable Care Act reserves for individuals earning between 100 and 400 percent of poverty. These Oklahomans will be denied coverage that we know ensures better access to health care services, less financial hardship, and better health outcomes. Not expanding Medicaid also means that federal taxes paid by Oklahomans will be spent on health care in other states, not here in Oklahoma...." Also on our show today, we present a moving and reflective commentary from Barry Friedman called "The Rabbi and Me."

Rich Fisher passed through KWGS about thirty years ago, and just never left. Today, he is the general manager of Public Radio Tulsa, and the host of KWGS’s public affairs program, StudioTulsa, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in August 2012 . As host of StudioTulsa, Rich has conducted roughly four thousand long-form interviews with local, national, and international figures in the arts, humanities, sciences, and government. Very few interviews have gone smoothly. Despite this, he has been honored for his work by several organizations including the Governor's Arts Award for Media by the State Arts Council, a Harwelden Award from the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, and was named one of the “99 Great Things About Oklahoma” in 2000 by Oklahoma Today magazine.
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