Broaden the conversation
“Medicaid reform could benefit Oklahoma” (Our Views, Jan. 8) is a thoughtful and timely opinion piece as the Legislature prepares for a new session where this vexing public policy challenge is sure to remain a top legislative initiative. As the former secretary of health and an Oklahoma state senator, I know first-hand how difficult it is to reform our health system.
I do want to offer a counter view. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has done heroic work to keep costs under control. To do an apples-to-apples assessment, the editorial’s figures ought to include enrollment gain and the shifting state/federal matching burden. From 2008 to 2016, state spending increased at a compound annual growth rate of 6.65 percent. If you include the fact that enrollment increased during that same time period, from just under 800,000 enrollees to just over 1 million, annual per-member costs have only increased .56 percent. This essentially flat rate of growth in per-Medicaid enrollee costs are vastly superior to the health inflation in perperson costs common among privatesector commercial plans.
Now is indeed a good time to assess Medicaid reform, especially given the national conversation. But I hope the conversation includes our entire state health system as well. The surprising fact is that with respect to cost containment, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has much to teach other stakeholders.
Tom Adelson, Tulsa