Several state medical groups, including the Oklahoma Hospital Association, are preparing to launch a campaign to educate Oklahomans about the need for the federal Affordable Care Act, The Journal Record has learned.
Targeted at active voters, the Oklahoma Legislature and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, OHA officials said the campaign would outline the need for the ACA and what could happen if the state continues to refuse an expansion of federal Medicaid funds.
"We understand that the Legislature is echoing what a majority of the Oklahoma public feels," said Patti Davis, OHA executive vice president. "But we think the public doesn't have all the information about the health care act and doesn't realize what will happen if we don't expand Medicaid."
Davis pointed to a recent column for a local newspaper written by state Rep. Doug Cox, a physician, as an example. In that column, Cox, R-Grove, said he would have accepted the Medicaid expansion.
"Oklahomans will still have to pay federal taxes and penalties for not having health care insurance," Cox wrote. "With the governor's decision, our money will now be used to expand the program in other states, while our own citizens continue to be uninsured and lack access to care."
Cox said he would have made the decision to accept the expansion based on the predicament many of his constituents were in, rather than on politics.
"Most people who would have been affected by the expansion of Medicaid are not deadbeats, but hardworking Oklahomans trying to raise their children and make a better life for themselves," he said. "They have lower-wage jobs, without employer-provided insurance."
Davis said her organization and others like it in the state were concerned that if Oklahoma continued to refuse additional Medicaid funds, many rural hospitals would see millions of dollars in funding cuts. …