It is difficult to exaggerate the level of ignorance and venality on display at NE 23rd and Lincoln Boulevard. in Oklahoma City these days.
The People's House has become a cuckoo's nest in which extremist ideology doesn't just trump common sense -- it obliterates it.
And regretfully, many innocents will end up suffering because of Gov. Mary Fallin's unconscionable decision to stick a thumb in Uncle Sam's eye over Obamacare.
Yes, indeed ... it was a real pleaser with the Gadsden flag-waving ninnies whose tin foil hats are in need of serious adjustment.
But for those who live in the reality-based world, the consequences of Her Excellency playing politics with life-and-death public policy are painfully obvious.
It will hurt the average taxpayer. It will hurt the working poor. And it will hurt many of the state's health care providers who already are staggering beneath a mountain of unreimbursed care.
The governor must have graduated magna cum laude from the Fox Noise School of Orwellian Mathematics. In rejecting the feds' Medicaid blueprint, she asserted -- with face straight -- that Oklahoma simply could not afford it.
Moreover, she warned gravely, it could cost the state up to $475 million between now and 2020, a budget-buster if there ever was one.
There is an old saying that you're entitled to your own set of opinions, but you're not your own set of facts.
And Fallin's doomsday proclamations don't square with the f-a-c-t-s.
Let me see if I can write slowly enough for the Obamacare haters to understand r-e-a-l-i-t-y.
Without the Obama Medicaid plan, an estimated 200,000 Oklahomans will remain u-n-i-n-s-u-r-e-d.
They will have no choice but to rely on the most expensive health care in the market: the e-m-e-r-g-e-n-c-y r-o-o-m.
And since they don't have insurance, who do you suppose will pick up the tab?
Mostly, the t-a-x-p-a-y-e-r-s ... who in effect will now be dunned twice for unreimbursed care.
Simple: You, Mr. or Ms. Taxpayer, and I already rendered to Uncle Sam that which is Uncle Sam's. Uncle Sam offered to use that money to cover more of Oklahoma's working poor, paying 100 percent of the new Medicaid costs the first three years and winding down to a mere 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.
But since our governor not only bellowed No! -- but Hell, No! -- we're now on our own.
And by the way, that money we rendered unto Uncle Sam? It's going to pay for expanding Medicaid in other states, thank you very little.
Amazingly, Fallin ignored her own Oklahoma Health Care Authority's estimates that participating in the Medicaid expansion would yield s-a-v-i-n-g-s to the cash-strapped state Treasury.
Even more baffling: A corporatist Republican governor ignored the pleas of some of the state's leading corporatists -- including health care providers -- who know a g-r-e-a-t d-e-a-l when they see one.
It is true that Republicans dominated the 2012 elections in Oklahoma, but they did not nationally. And since -- last I checked -- we're still part of the United States, national elections have implications for Oklahoma as well.
It's evident, however, that Fallin, her party's titular head, and her sooner GOP sidekicks completely missed the reality of the national results: Obamacare is here to s-t-a-y.
Yet, the uber-right remains in lockstep denial: Fallin made her announcement just after 11am. At 12:20pm, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman issued a release, praising her decision.
Incoming Speaker T.W. Shannon followed at 1:04pm. The Koch brothers-financed Americans for Prosperity at 1:09pm. The state GOP chairman at 2:39pm. The state attorney general at 2:51. The state insurance commissioner at 3:37pm.
Despite the fantasy that Attorney General Scott Pruitt will somehow find the legal silver bullet to slay the evil, socialist plot, Obama's reelection and a Democratic Senate majority means status quo on the Affordable Care Act.
And, need I remind you, the uber-right U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on this issue?
Game, set, match, Obamacare.
So let's take a closer look at the final box score:
Gov. Mary Fallin? Pyrrhic victory. She may be basking in Tea Party adulation now, but her legacy is doomed. In baseball terms, she has donned the dunce cap known as the Golden Sombrero -- whiffing every time upon an issue of grave importance.
The taxpayers? Defeat. Our tax dollars will now be used to support Medicaid expansion in other states while we scramble to figure out how to pay for unreimbursed care in Oklahoma -- and still finance vital state services.
The working poor? Shutout. We already scrape the bottom of the barrel nationally in health outcomes -- high incidences of obesity, diabetes, teen pregnancy, you name it. Now 200,000 or so will remain shut out of routine care that could help ensure they're healthier, and more productive.
Sounds like a death panel at work to me.
The only silver lining in Fallin's announcement was her refusal to implement a state health insurance exchange.
This was a comedy of errors from the get-go. Last year, she and legislative leaders rejected a $54 million federal grant to set up the Obamacare requirement (refusing tax dollars Oklahomans already sent to the federal government).
At the time, our top officials stuck out their chins, collectively, and declared they had so little faith in the federal government that they'd rather do it themselves.
Of course, they did nothing. They sat and waited calmly in the certainty the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn Obamacare. It didn't.
What happened next? They twiddled their thumbs some more ... finally opting to let the federal government "impose" a health insurance plan.
If it doesn't work well, they can bitch around-the-clock about federal overreach. If it does -- if it really helps those of us who aren't fortunate enough to be covered by a Cadillac-style corporate health care plan -- they'll hope taxpayers won't remember that they promised to do the job but didn't.
That's where the silver lining appears.
Maybe it's best that Oklahoma -- under this band of "leaders" -- neither set up nor manage an exchange. Maybe this is one of those times when a federal solution will prove preferable.
Sadly, state leadership in the last decade has proven utterly incapable of solving Oklahoma's most intractable problems, much less managing its resources and services.
Share this article: