OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) released the following statement in response to at least one Oklahoma hospital furloughing employees during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hillcrest Medical Center, in Nichols’ district, announced Monday that 600 employees would be furloughed.
“For nearly a decade, the House Democratic Caucus has fought for full Medicaid expansion, and instead of working with us on a solution to save our healthcare system, the Republican supermajority and two Republican governors sat and watched Oklahoma’s healthcare system fall apart.
I fear their failure to act has crippled our state’s response to the greatest healthcare threat of a generation.
Over the last few years, we watched rural hospitals close and file for bankruptcy, but that wasn’t enough. And now in the middle of a global pandemic, Oklahoma hospitals are having to focus on saving money when their focus should be saving lives. That’s not a failure on their part. It’s a failure on the part of policymakers who let politics blind them from protecting Oklahomans in times of grave need.
For Hillcrest, Medicaid expansion would have meant an additional $20 million in revenue, which would have gone a long way to addressing these furloughs.
For Oklahoma, Medicaid expansion would have meant nearly a billion dollars in healthcare funding and hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans having access to affordable healthcare. It would have meant more stable hospitals and fewer communities suffering from a lack of providers.
States that have expanded Medicaid are in a much better position to combat COVID-19 and are showing better results. Oklahoma is not one of those states. As our rate of infection grows and other states are bringing in additional support for their citizens and health systems, we’re sending folks home.”