Medical professionals from around the state went to the capitol Wednesday, to talk with lawmakers about what they call the devastating impact to more proposed cuts to Medicaid.
It's the second highest cost the state faces – the cost of Medicaid reimbursements. And with the state facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, those reimbursements are expected to be cut by an additional 25-percent. Medical professionals from around the state say that will force rural hospitals and nursing homes to close down.
"Prior to any cuts being made as it stands today we lose $1.2 million a year or $3,200 a day to provide services. We cannot take any further cuts. It's not going to happen. We won't be there. We won't survive it,” said Jahni Tapley, McCurtain Memorial Hospital.
One by one, medical professionals outlined just how tight their budgets are and how more Medicaid cuts would affect them. They urge lawmakers to go forward with Medicaid re-balancing, where 175,000 people will be moved to private insurance companies. They also want to see the governor's plan for a $1.50 tax on cigarettes to help fund Medicaid put into place, and they want the state to begin accepting federal Obamacare dollars.
Mike Carter with Easter Oklahoma Medical Center said more Medicaid cuts is, "Putting these folks at dire risk of life and death. So the issue that we're discussing here is that. It is life and death."
"It's potentially going to break a lot of ambulance services in Oklahoma. Those of us who are able to withstand it are going to have to wind up covering those areas because there are not other ambulance services to step in. Which means longer transport times,” said David Grovdahl, EMS of LeFlore County.
Most lawmakers News 9 spoke with are in favor of some type of Medicaid re-balancing, but there doesn't seem to be much support in the Senate or House of Representatives for a tobacco tax.