By Consumers For Quality Care, on March 27, 2020
Seven national organizations, including the American Heart Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, recently released a statement calling for Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt to withdraw his Medicaid expansion plan due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Modern Healthcare reports:
“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,” the statement read.
The concern over the plan from national organizations during the coronavirus pandemic is shared by other groups. A recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation brief found that as the pandemic increases the need for affordable, quality care for lower income people, block grant proposals like Sitt’s could result in beneficiaries losing health coverage.
Sitt’s plan would take advantage of block-grant style Medicaid expansion being offered by the Trump administration. The plan allows states to impose restrictions on Medicaid dollars not typically allowed, such as imposing work requirements on recipients, which is one requirement Sitt wants to impose.
Medicaid has traditionally been an open-ended, unconditional entitlement program. Sitt has promoted his expansion plan as an alternative to a Medicaid expansion initiative that will go up for a public vote this year. If that passes, Medicaid expansion will likely be put in Oklahoma’s Constitution, preventing conditions like work requirements under Sitt’s plan from ever being added.