Opposing Expansion, Stitt Says Medicaid Block Grant Is 'Solution' For Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY - While speaking on a conservative Oklahoma City radio show, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) gave the first glimpse into his plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program through a block grant of federal dollars.
His plan is his counter to the push to expand Medicaid, which is expected to be put to a statewide vote in 2020.
“The solution for Oklahoma is block grant to bring more federal dollars into our state in a different way and then we can define through copays, through work requirements, we can focus on getting dollars in the Oklahomans (sic) that they need and also protecting tax payers from any future change in laws from the federal government,” Stitt said on the KOKC radio show “The Ride.”
A block grant is a lump sum of money given to a state for Medicaid instead of a fixed matching rate, which is how most states operate. Oklahoma is currently one of 14 states that have not adopted the Medicaid expansion from the Obama Administration. Oklahoma is also one of a handful of states moving towards fully implemented work requirements already, as Stitt suggested.
Supporters of Stitt’s plan said the matching rate leaves states vulnerable if the Center for Medicaid and Medicare ever changed the rate. which is currently 9:1. Although a change like that has never happened.
The block grant method is also supported by the White House where Stitt and his Chief of Staff have visited within the last week. President Donald Trump also expressed support for block granting Medicaid back in April and CMS officials have been working on a new block grant strategy since early 2019. In the interview on KOKC, Stitt signaled Oklahoma's acceptance of a block grant had been discussed with the administration.
Stitt has long opposed Medicaid expansion for the state which is expected to be on the ballot in 2020 calling it “problematic.” Supporters of expansion said it would return more than $1 billion in taxes Oklahomans are already paying. In the latest SoonerPoll poll, 56 percent of Oklahomans support expansion. Signatures on the initiative petition are currently being verified by the Secretary of State.
The Governor said on the radio show he had not yet started to campaign for his version of a Medicaid overhaul. He is expected to lay out a more detailed version of his plan but did not say when that would happen. It is also up to him as to when the vote for expansion would be put on the ballot, should the initiative have enough verified signatures.