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Posts Tagged ‘Medicaid expansion’

Bits and Pieces: ALEC at Work in the Oklahoma Legislature

Mon ,02/06/2014

In a Readers Forum article in the Tulsa World, “Responsible, conservative reforms working”, Brian Bingman, president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate, states how proud he is of what the legislature has been able to accomplish. Mr. Bingman is rather quick to pat himself and the legislature on the back, as the reforms he cites were more to the benefit of corporations than of the average citizen. The tax reform and tax cut leaves the state badly underfunded. The balanced budget, achieved by cutting needed services, does not meet the needs of the state. The Capitol building repair was funded by bonds, rather than taxes, which has further indebted the state in the future. The education system is badly underfunded and the tax cuts have only made the situation worse in the future.

The workers compensation reform limits an injured workers right to full compensation for his injuries. Tort reform makes it harder for the average citizen to seek redress in court and limits the liability of corporations. The reform to the state’s public employee pension system, by privatizing the future pension system, destabilizes the existing program, and is a boon to private fund managers. The failure to expand Medicaid will cost the state billions of dollars in Federal funds, that we pay as taxes, and has left 144,000 Oklahomans without adequate healthcare. The hastily passed changes and extensions to corporate oil and gas subsidies, demanded by Oklahoma’s three largest oil and gas companies,  were unnecessary and will make the state’s budget problems worse in future  – and were likely unconstitutional.

Next to the Governor, Mr. Bingman is the highest ranking member of ALEC in our state and his achievements are  high on the list of ALEC’s model legislation. Many of those “accomplishments” benefit  ALEC’s corporate members, but in the end they will hurt Oklahoma and its citizens.  The Governor and 70 of our 149 legislators are members of ALEC, so what chance does an average citizen have?


If you would like to end the influence of ALEC on politics in Oklahoma, please go to http://okcitizensfirst.org/2014/04/24/alec/ and ask your candidates for office to pledge that they will put the needs of Oklahoma citizens first. Let’s vote out anyone who won’t.

Note: The related Credo Petition to Governor Fallin about Medicaid expansion is at:  https://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/governor-fallin-release-the-31-e-mails-about-medicaid-expansion

Alternate Universe Discovered at Oklahoma Capitol

Sat ,05/04/2014

Recent research now suggests that multiple universes may have been formed during the Big Bang. There is evidence that one of those alternate universes may exist here in Oklahoma. I became aware of it by accident because I saw a large sign outside of Yukon Oklahoma which said,

“Welcome to Oklahoma. Where 144,000 people are denied health care because Republicans refuse to expand Medicaid.”.

That is not right, as many Republicans supported expanding Medicaid and it was Governor Mary Fallin’s decision not to do so.

When I called the Governors’ office to protest, I was transferred to someone in the public relations department which may exist in an alternate universe. I did not get the gentleman’s name, but it probably doesn’t matter since he may not exist in reality, so I’ll just call him, Au. I explained to him the reason for my call and ask why the governor had not expanded Medicaid.

Au:  It was a decision forced upon the Governor by the Affordable Care Act.

Me: But the Affordable Care Act allows the Governor to expand Medicaid to cover those people.

Au: Yes, but it makes it too expensive.

Me: But the federal government will pay for Medicaid expansion for the next 10 years, providing $1.3 billion for the program while costing the state something like $200 million.

Au: But the state doesn’t have $200 million, and it could not pay for the expansion in 10 years as then the federal government only pays for 90% after that.

Me: But couldn’t the state cancel after 10 years if it found it too expensive.

Au: We couldn’t do that and leave all those people uninsured.

Note: It was about here that the theme for Twilight Zone began running through my head.

Me: Couldn’t we put the money to expand Medicaid into the budget?

Au: No we couldn’t. You have to face reality.            (Which one?)

Me: Couldn’t we forgo the tax cut winding its way through the Legislature – or just raise taxes enough to meet the needs of the Oklahoma citizens?

Au: The budget meets the needs of the citizens.

Me: Then why is our education system so underfunded?

Au: Our education system is not underfunded.

Note: It just happened on this particular day there were 25,000 teachers, administrators, parents, grandparents, and students outside the Capitol Building protesting because the legislature would not properly fund education.

Me: Then why are all those citizens outside the Capitol Building today protesting educational funding?

Au: That’s not what they’re protesting about.

Me: Of course it is. The Oklahoma Policy Institute says that the current level of education funding is below what it was in 2008.

Au: That’s not true. Oklahoma has actually increased funding for education to an all-time high,  over $12,000 per-pupil.

Me: That’s not what the Oklahoma Policy Institute says. Where do you get your numbers?

Au: Good Day. Click.

That confirmed it for me. Only in an alternate universe would a public relations person hang up on a citizen. In science, however, it takes an independent confirmation before a discovery is credited. Luckily, someone at the Oklahoma Policy Institute also had contact with the alternate universe and was able to retrieve Au’s school budget . A breakdown of his $12,000 per-pupil is shown below, arrived at by including everything but the kitchen sink into the per-pupil expenditures. At the bottom is the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s comment on Au’s budget.


The 64.3% which funds school operation is about $706 less per student in inflation-adjusted dollars than in 2008. Apparently, reality in the alternate universe is very different from the one  that most Oklahoma citizens perceive.

You too may explore an alternate universe. Just call the Oklahoma Governor’s office about Medicaid expansion.

(c) 2014 J.C. Moore