Fee Could Generate Millions

Image of Andrew Rice

Senate and House Democrats are threatening to hold up a budget agreement unless Republicans agree to a provider fee for hospitals that could bring the state millions of dollars in new Medicaid money.

The provider fee is a pragmatic, sensible proposal that deserves bipartisan support. It’s unfortunate some budget negotiators apparently don’t see it that way.

State Sen. Andrew Rice, an Oklahoma City Democrat, and state Rep. Scott Inman, a Del City Democrat, have led the public charge with the proposal, which is supported by the Oklahoma Hospital Association.

In a statement this week about the proposal, Rice, pictured right, said the hospital fee would be a “300 percent” return on an investment. The federal government matches the fee on a 3-1 basis in Medicaid dollars. It would bring in millions of new dollars to the state, Rice said.

It makes sense to take advantage of the available federal money, especially when the state faces a massive budget crisis.

Rice said state Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, an Oklahoma City Republican, doesn’t favor the proposal.

The legislative session ends in about two weeks. Will there be a budget deal soon? The state faces a budget shortfall some estimate at $600 to $850 million. It’s time to put aside ideology and find political compromises to prevent human suffering and permanent institutional damage.

Democrats should be commended for taking a stand and bringing this issue to the public forefront.