Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt expressed his disapproval of Medicaid expansion under State Question 802, calling the ballot initiative “Plan F” and “problematic” in a recent interview on KOKC’s “The Ride.”
SQ 802 would amend the Oklahoma Constitution and expand Medicaid eligibility to any able-bodied, working-age adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The state question is expected to be on the primary or general ballot in 2020.
“We cannot allow this [Medicaid expansion] to be a part of our constitution. When it’s part of our constitution that puts handcuffs on us and how we deliver services.”
—Gov. Kevin Stitt.
In the interview, Gov. Stitt noted that he does not want to add Medicaid expansion to Oklahoma’s constitution. “We cannot allow this to be a part of our constitution. When it goes on the ballot those signatures were to make it part of our constitution. And when it’s part of our constitution that puts handcuffs on us and how we deliver services.”
He said his administration is formulating its own health care reform plan for Oklahoma. “I readily admit that I’ve got to come out and tell Oklahomans here’s plan A and this [State Question 802] is plan F,” he said. “We cannot allow it to be a part of our state constitution.”
Gov. Stitt said his administration is looking for other options to reform and improve Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, including a block grant. With a block grant, Oklahoma would receive a set amount from the federal government for Medicaid expenditures, instead of receiving an uncapped reimbursement match as states do now. On the radio program, Gov. Stitt noted this reform would allow more autonomy over Medicaid reforms that deal with financing matters.
“The solution for Oklahoma is a block grant to bring more federal dollars into our state in a separate way and then we can define through copays, through work requirements, we can focus on actually getting dollars [to] the Oklahomans that they need and also protecting taxpayers from any future change in laws from the federal government.”
Gov. Stitt is not the only governor seeking a Medicaid block grant. In September, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released a proposal to implement block grants for the state Medicaid program through a federal waiver.
Tennessee is one of 14 states, including Oklahoma, that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It is unclear when Tennessee will officially submit its proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees Medicaid. State officials with TennCare are currently holding open forums around the state to gather public comments regarding the proposal.