Public Health Groups Admonish Timing of Oklahoma’s Medicaid Expansion Waiver Proposal
OKLAHOMA CITY — March 20, 2020 — Seven national organizations representing patients facing serious chronic medical conditions released the following statement regarding Gov. Kevin Stitt’s “SoonerCare 2.0” plan:
“We are alarmed that Gov. Kevin Stitt released his SoonerCare 2.0 waiver application while Oklahoma, and the world, grapples with a serious global health crisis. We urge the application be withdrawn immediately.
“COVID-19 is a serious threat to Oklahoma’s public and economic health. Starting the 30-day public comment period on SoonerCare 2.0, which if implemented in its current form could trigger grave consequences for Oklahomans, while families worry about their lives and livelihoods is completely inappropriate.
“Gov. Stitt wants the state to adopt guidance from President Trump’s administration that allows states to shift how they receive federal funding – a system known as block grants. Block grants are known for their inflexibility in times of rising enrollment and are especially dangerous during times of public emergency — such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“The waiver application would implement several measures that are barriers to care: cost-sharing provisions, an emergency room penalty fee and work requirements. Public health groups disagree with these waivers for good reason: The state’s own report indicates that the waivers would ‘likely depress’ Medicaid enrollment when compared to a traditional Medicaid expansion plan, meaning fewer Oklahomans would gain coverage.
“The governor’s SoonerCare 2.0 proposal will undermine access to health insurance coverage for individuals currently enrolled in the program and thousands of uninsured residents who could benefit from increased access to Medicaid. We would not support these waivers under any circumstances but feel it is imperative to halt these plans while our nation focuses on the COVID-19 crisis.
“We urge Gov. Stitt to immediately withdraw this waiver.”
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
National Multiple Sclerosis Society