Chickasha Mayor Hank Ross testified before a committee at the sate house yesterday on the value of expanding medicaid. 

The committee was part of an interim study chaired by State Representative Joe Dorman. Ross was one of four people invited to speak on the topic.

"My message was more about services available for seniors that are not being utilized," Ross said. 

Home health care and hospice are two areas Ross said chronically ill patients can use instead of constantly going to a hospital. This would cut down on costs for the patient and the healthcare provider, according to Ross. 

Medicaid expansion will help across the board, and Ross said several states with GOP leadership have started accepting federal dollars to expand the program. 

"The data is clear," he said. "The states that expanded medicaid have seen 25 percent less readmission (to hospitals) than those that haven't." 

Oklahoma faces a $165 million shortfall when it comes to medicaid expenses, but that doesn't mean hospital costs will reduce to make up for the lost funds. 

"People are still getting health care anyway, regardless of whether medicaid money is there," he said. "This puts rural hospitals at risk, which may close and patients could lose access." 

Ross said the country as a whole does a poor job managing chronic disease patients. 

"We can't treat end of life care like a death panel," he said. "The majority of people use 60 percent of their medical dollars the last six months of their lives. The Oklahoma Hospital Association said the same thing. We made a mistake not expanding medicaid."

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