My wife and I have always taught our kids to follow the Golden Rule of the bible: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As a Christian, I believe that it is our duty to take care of our friends, our neighbors, and even those we do not know.
Medicaid is the safety net that many of our fellow Oklahomans can use to receive health care. As a government program, it allows us to take care of some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients including children, expectant mothers, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. But Medicaid is designed to take care of our neediest and our most vulnerable, not to take care of everybody.
Unlike Medicare which is funded solely by federal taxpayers, Medicaid receives funding from both state and federal taxpayers. Over 783,000 Oklahomans are enrolled in Medicaid and about half of the children in Oklahoma are on Medicaid. In 2015, Oklahoma spent almost five billion dollars on Medicaid spending. It’s expected that this year alone, our country will spend more on Medicaid than we spend on our national defense.
Right now, Medicaid is anything but sustainable. That’s why this past week, the committee that I sit on, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, had a hearing focused on reforming and improving Medicaid. One of my bills, the Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid (CALM) Act, was discussed as a way to make Medicaid stronger and more sustainable.
The CALM Act makes sure that individuals with significant means do not take advantage of Medicaid by hiding some of their assets in annuities. Over a decade, the CALM Act would save hundreds of millions of dollars across the nation and address the backlog of community-based home health services. Today, there are almost 7,000 Oklahomans waiting in line for home health care.
I’m also a member of the Medicaid Task Force within the Energy and Commerce Committee. Along with other members of the committee, I’m helping lead the charge to determine how we can make Medicaid stronger for all states. By closing loopholes that allow people to take advantage of the system and finding savings to put toward the state and federal budgets, I’ll continue to work in Congress to make sure Oklahoma’s Medicaid system is as fully-functional and cost effective as can be.
We want to make sure that Medicaid is sustainable so that we can honor the Golden Rule and continue to take care of our neighbors for generations to come. Medicaid in Oklahoma badly needs reform and it is my hope that we can find a solution that fits Oklahoma, not a one-size-fits all approach that the federal government mandates.