Next week, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority will be seeking approval to treat returned mail as a reason to terminate SoonerCare members’ Medicaid health coverage.
Beyond thanking Wayne Greene for his column on this harmful proposal, we’d like to add our own points of concern ("A proposed rule could leave Oklahomans without health coverage if the post office can't deliver one letter," Jan. 27).
The authority says this rule change is needed to comply with the recently enacted HOPE Act. However, the language of the law appears to give considerable leeway on how to verify a SoonerCare member’s residence.
That leeway should be used to set up a cleaner verification process with clearer guardrails to protect SoonerCare members.
The authority also says this new rule will save the state money, yet it offers no estimate of how much money might be saved. Experience would suggest that moving people from Medicaid to uncompensated care will ultimately drive up costs for both taxpayers and patients.
If the state is going to risk this possibility, as well as the potential disruption of health care for thousands of Oklahomans, solid financial estimates would seem to be a must-have item for those deciding on the merits of this proposal.
Restoring hope and opportunity requires stability, but losing one’s health coverage increases the odds that a medical event will cause financial hardships and delayed or discarded treatment. This is why reliable access to quality, affordable health care coverage matters, especially to those people with chronic health conditions.
We urge the healthcare authority to change their approach of verifying residential addresses to protect current and future SoonerCare members.
Editor's Note: Dana Bacon is a government affairs director the the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Kari Rinker is asenior advocacy manager at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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