OKLAHOMA CITY — The state has a chronic public health problem that threatens the future of its people.
A new study finds the situation is getting worse as Oklahoma’s Medicaid budget and costs continue to grow.
It’s a dire state of affairs.
A major study released Tuesday shows that as the state’s Medicaid system continues to balloon under the Republican governor’s leadership, the costs of care and the quality of life are declining.
“This is a critical moment,” said James Hargrove, executive director of the Oklahoma State Auditor’s Office.
“We need to be doing everything we can to make sure that the money we are paying is really being used to make the right changes.”
The report by the Oklahoma Policy Project, an Oklahoma nonprofit, found that the average Medicaid beneficiary spends $2,400 a year on out-of-pocket costs, up from $1,500 in 2014.
That’s a 25 percent increase in just four years.
Medicaid spending is projected to jump another 50 percent by 2020.
The average cost per enrollee is $7,400 this year, up $400 from the previous year.
That increase is due in large part to rising out- of-pocket spending and the state running a $1 billion deficit.
“We are seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic,” Hargreavesaid.
“Our opioid crisis is real, it’s serious, and it’s growing.”
The opioid epidemic is a growing public health issue across the country and is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5.
Oklahoma is in the middle of a federal opioid crisis, and Gov.
Mary Fallin has ordered a state of emergency.
“There are more than 20,000 opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma each year,” Haggerve said.
“So when you have an increase of over 50 percent in Medicaid spending, you have a serious problem.”
The report also found that Medicaid beneficiaries are more likely to be black, poorer, and in rural areas.
This is an important finding because the study found that white Medicaid recipients have the lowest rates of drug addiction and use.
“White Medicaid recipients are a significant and growing portion of the population,” the report said.
Hargreaver said the state should focus on prevention of drug use, particularly in the community.
“The state has made significant strides in prevention,” Haggreaves said.
In addition to Medicaid spending increasing, the report also showed that the number of opioid overdose fatalities is declining, although the number has been growing in recent years.
The opioid crisis affects the state most acutely.
The number of people dying from opioid overdoses doubled in 2014 from 8,500 to 17,000.
Oklahoma also had the highest rate of prescription opioid abuse, with 1 in 3 adults receiving prescription painkillers.
The report found that nearly 40 percent of adults in the state have used prescription pain medication at least once.