As the 2021 Legislative Session wraps up, I’m finding myself in a very interesting battle regarding the direction we take with Medicaid expansion. Many of you have been calling and emailing my office, asking great questions about the things you have been reading and hearing regarding this issue. Because of all the inquiries, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the other side of the issue regarding Medicaid expansion.

            Recently, there have been accusations made against those who have been supportive of Senate Bill 131, saying that those of us who support SB131 are “socialists,” “trying to expand government” and “supporting Biden’s plan.” I would specifically like to address these accusations, as it is a complete misrepresentation of what is going on in our state, despite this narrative being spread by those opposed to this piece of legislation.

            First, you may remember this past summer when Oklahoma voters passed State Question 802. When Oklahomans voted this into law, Medicaid automatically had to be expanded. That said, this accusation of being a “socialist” is false. I openly opposed SQ802 throughout my campaign. Those of us in support of SB131 are NOT trying to hand out healthcare for free. The citizens decided to extend health care services through Medicaid expansion in the summer of 2020, putting that mandate into the state's constitution. The legislature has no choice but to determine how to fund the program after Oklahomans voted to expand it.

            The second accusation is that we are “trying to expand government.” This is also false. I am a huge proponent of keeping money in the state of Oklahoma. Managed Care Organizations are for-profit companies that are not state-based and are not owned by people in Oklahoma. Although I actively opposed SQ802, now that it is in our constitution, I must help figure out the best solution to satisfy the will of the people. I am NOT in support of expanding government, but I am also not a supporter of sending MILLIONS of dollars into the pockets of people who do not call Oklahoma “home.” The CEO of one of these organizations made over $25 million in 2019. I’m not okay with this when we have Oklahomans who voted for SQ802, expecting us to be responsible spenders of their tax dollars. 

            Lastly, we are not “supporting Biden’s plan.” This plan was actually the same exact language that was endorsed by President Donald Trump and Governor Stitt last year. This point is very brief, but you can find more information about this if you do a simple Google search or email my office and I can send you some links. There are pending lawsuits against some of these companies in other states (you can also Google “Managed Care Organization Lawsuits” or “Centene Lawsuits” for more information). I cannot actively support this plan when other states have pending litigation because of the problems they’ve had with it.

            What does SB131 do for Oklahoma? I have partnered with Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, on this legislation. Without getting too much in the weeds on this bill, it basically removes the ability for these out-of-state companies (who have openly stated they would save money by cutting services to Oklahomans) to manage our voter-passed Medicaid expansion.

            Why is this important? I believe it is important for us to manage our care in state because these companies save money by cutting services and cutting provider rates. I don’t want Oklahomans to go without services or have less access to the care they desperately need so that these companies can continue making millions of dollars at the cost of Oklahoma patient care.

            Please do your own research or contact me, and I’ll be happy to talk to you about this further. But I’m definitely not a “socialist,” “trying to expand government” or “supporting Biden’s plan.”  This is a false narrative being presented by those representing or supporting the managed care companies, which stand to make millions off of Oklahomans, unless SB 131 is signed into law. 

            If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.

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