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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin made a big public stink about refusing to have anything to do with Obamacare, rejecting both the Medicaid expansion and a state-built exchange. But it turns out, the state is quietly benefitting from the law. Here's what Fallin had to say about Obamacare back in November.
“It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support or fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of the American health care system and the fiscal stability of the nation.”
More quietly though, Oklahoma has accepted an influx of Obamacare dollars to digitize SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program. That means, even without expanding Medicaid, Oklahoma is using health reform funds to hugely overhaul how it serves the state’s lowest-income patients.
Using the federal dollars, Oklahoma has built technologies that allow patients to submit scanned documents online, rather than dropping a form in the mailbox. The state increased data sharing with its WIC program, so that local health offices might not need to ask for the same eligibility information twice. [...]
The health reform dollars “have given us the ability to really build an infrastructure,” said Nico Gomez, deputy chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. “It’s allowed us to develop the technologies that are responsive to our members and their needs.”
And it's not just Oklahoma, the Kaiser Family Foundation has found. Even though only 22 states have committed to expanding Medicaid under the law, so far, 47 are using Obamacare money to update their information technology infrastructure to make delivery of care more efficient and less expensive.
But don't expect any of red state governors to be going public with the money they have accepted from Obamacare, and the improvements it's making.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:38 PM PST.