State Lawmakers React To Gov. Stitt's Plan To Expand SoonerCare

Thursday, January 30th 2020, 6:04 pm

Legislative leaders in the state House and Senate are split along party lines over Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to expand SoonerCare. 

Although the governor’s plan is short on details, Republicans and Democrats are speaking out about it and whether it could be derailed by a vote to expand Medicaid this year.

Read More: Oklahoma Governor Announces 'SoonerCare 2.0' Medicaid Expansion Plan

“I’m very excited about the opportunities that are going to be afforded the states and that’s going to help us in terms of addressing health care, I think, in a better way,” said House Speaker Charles McCall.

Republicans are optimistic about the governor’s plan. He said the Healthy Adult Opportunity initiative will revamp SoonerCare, expanding coverage and bringing federal dollars back to Oklahoma.

“It definitely does increase access to health care to 138% of the poverty level. It does capture the federal tax dollars -- our federal tax dollars. It brings them home -- about $1.1 billion -- and no tax increase on the citizens,” said Rep. Marcus Mcentire, R-Duncan.

The plan, according to backers, would also give the state flexibility to impose certain rules, like insisting recipients work or impose premiums.

“I would have preferred that we had it a little bit sooner rather than later, but it is what it is. So we’re going to look at it. We’re going to digest it. We’re going to check the numbers,” said Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd.

This year, Oklahomans will be able to vote on State Question 802, a question about expanding Medicaid.

“If there’s a state question that passes, I think it nullifies any work that we do in this arena, because the state Constitution would obviously trump any executive action and or any legislative action,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

Democrats said the plan is too little too late.

“Now that the voters have taken it into their own hands, I think we should allow them to do that,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin. 

Stitt opposes State Question 802. It’s up to the governor to decide when the question will appear on a state ballot in 2020, and he has not announced it yet.

Related: Gov. Stitt To Unveil Medicaid Block Grant Plan, Source Tells News 9 

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