Families beware: Soonercare changes may be on the way.
"They shouldn’t do things to parents like that because we work hard," said Alvis Strozen, a parent who has Soonercare. "We try to provide for our families is all we’re trying to do."
The state’s Medicaid program — Soonercare could be changing for Oklahoma families.
It’s still in the planning phase, but Soonercare could require parents to report how much they’re working to prove that they’re eligible for their healthcare.
A policy watchdog group calls these changes to Soonercare radical.
If this plan goes again, the group fears it could put low income families in turmoil — dropping them from access to "any" type of health care coverage at no fault of their own.
More than one million Oklahomans are on the state’s Soonercare.
Strozen, of Muskogee, is one of the parents enrolled
"It allowed Zach to be born, it allowed him to get his checkups," said Strozen. "He had something stuck in his foot and that cost thousands just to get something out of his foot.”
OK policy says the plan would allow the healthcare authority to cut healthcare coverage for parents like Strozen on Soonercare if they don’t report that they are complying with new work requirements.
"We have research that shows that if this were implemented, between 60 and 90 percent of the coverage loses would be people who are totally eligible for their coverage or eligible for an exemption, but they get tangled up in that red tape," said Carly Putnam of OK Policy.
Putnam says when parents lose health coverage it could be catastrophic for a whole family.
"A lot of states are considering proposals like this and we found that when people get involved during this public comment period they have a real opportunity to shape public policy,” Putnam said.
Strozen understands why the plan is out there.
"It’s already difficult enough to be on the program — to even get into the program,” said Strozen.
He thinks it’s unfair to hard-working families.
"If you’re getting somebody like me and they think you make too much money and you get kicked off because they think you make too much money, but I have a family to support," Strozen said. "We can’t eat. We can’t pay for healthcare costs such as that. It’s just too much.”
The department that regulates Soonercare has a comment period for families that runs until about September with public meetings happening all over the state.
It will be up to the federal government to approve the work eligibility plan.
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