Washington, DC – As the health care legislation is officially signed into law by President Obama, state governments and the American people begin to gear up for the implementation of the new legislation and what it might mean for the future. Many are concerned about the impact it will have on state budgets as states are forced to take on higher Medicaid costs.
“One of my biggest concerns with this bill is the $20 billion in unfunded mandates- most of which would be paid for by states in the form of higher Medicaid costs,” stated Lucas. “According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s estimates, once this bill is fully implemented by 2017, the State of Oklahoma would be saddled with an additional $92.7 million in new Medicaid costs alone. And these numbers assume there would not be a continued increase in the program, which is highly unlikely.”
These new federal mandates come at a time when many states, including Oklahoma, are being forced to cut important programs already in their state budgets as they struggle through the current economic recession and decreased revenues. Although the legislation does not enact the new Medicaid requirements for three years, no one can be certain if the economy will have recovered by then.
“For the 2010 fiscal year, the State of Oklahoma has required a 7.5 percent cut to all state agencies, which equals about $385.8 million in cuts to many important programs like our senior nutrition program,” stated Lucas. “It is unacceptable that the federal government will now mandate even more costs onto our states to enact a federal law that a majority of the American people oppose – 59 percent according to the most recent CNN poll. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. No one will be able to calculate the impact the new mandates will have on small businesses and the dramatic increase of participants in Medicaid when these businesses either fold or push their employees onto the federal plan.”
Congressman Lucas joined every member of the Oklahoma delegation to oppose the trillion dollar government takeover of health care. Recently, the Oklahoma State House passed a resolution that would allow Oklahoma to opt out of the nationalized health care bill without fear of penalties or cutbacks to Medicaid. The Oklahoma State Senate is working on similar legislation. In addition, some state governments have announced they plan to challenge the new law in court.
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