Statement: Gov. Stitt’s SoonerCare Plan Could Harm Oklahomans Impacted by Cancer

February 4, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY  The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network of Oklahoma released the following statement in response to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State address in which he further elaborated on proposed changes to SoonerCare:

“The tens of thousands of Oklahomans impacted by cancer – patients, survivors or caregivers – simply cannot afford the changes to SoonerCare proposed by Gov. Stitt. We are very concerned that limiting SoonerCare will leave behind many of the 20,000 Oklahomans who will face a cancer diagnosis this year.

“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. Such a change has the potential to significantly reduce low-income cancer patients, survivors and their families’ access to affordable, comprehensive health care.

“The governor wants to establish work requirements for SoonerCare, but a cancer patient’s treatment should not hinge upon whether they are able to work. Research suggests between 40% and 85% of cancer patients stop working while in treatment, and cancer survivors often require frequent follow-up visits and maintenance medications to prevent recurrence. A loss of health care coverage could seriously jeopardize their chance of survival.

“Additionally, these plans could severely limit access to benefits and services, including prescription drug coverage. Limits and restrictions on prescription drugs would seriously jeopardize cancer patients and survivors’ access to lifesaving cancer treatment therapies. The term “cancer” refers to more than 200 different diseases that require different treatments; limiting prescription drug coverage could deny enrollees access to physician recommended medicine and innovative therapies that could treat a patient’s specific type of cancer.  

“Gov. Stitt has targeted Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to help finance changes to SoonerCare. Redirecting these funds will result in the reduction or elimination of vital cancer prevention, research and treatment grants and programs that include tobacco prevention and cessation and the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Cancer Research Program (OTCRP). Lung cancer is the most diagnosed and deadly type of cancer in the state. TSET must continue battling tobacco and funding vital research.

“In the coming months, Oklahomans have an opportunity to vote on Question 802 – a ballot initiative allowing voters decide whether the state should expand its Medicaid program to 200,000 low-income state residents. ACS CAN Oklahoma and its volunteers have serious concerns that the governor’s plans for SoonerCare will undermine access to health insurance coverage for countless individuals currently enrolled in the program and thousands of uninsured state residents who could benefit from increased access to Medicaid. We will continue advocating for healthcare access that is inclusive and adequate for all Oklahomans touched by this disease.”

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Media Contacts

Adrienne M. Lynch
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager