Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, who rely on state run medical care, are waiting to see what changes could result from the Senate healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), if it is eventually passed.
“I think people with disabilities were singled out in this bill,” Jeff Hughes said.
Hughes is the executive director of the disability advocacy group Progressive Independence.
“I don't think that they want any type of long term care system whatsoever and it's pretty appalling to see that that's who was targeted with this bill,” said Hughes.
According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the BCRA would force 22 million Americans off insurance coverage and would cut billions of dollars from Medicaid and Medicare over the next decade. In Oklahoma those programs are run by what's known as SoonerCare.
Sen. James Lankford has yet to address concerns over the bill but said in a tweet:
We won't vote on #healthcare this wk. But I'll continue pursuing reform that's affordable for Okies of all health conditions & income levels— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) June 27, 2017
We won't vote on #healthcare this wk. But I'll continue pursuing reform that's affordable for Okies of all health conditions & income levels
According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, SoonerCare covered more than 840,000 people last year. Two-thirds of those were children.
It's also used by people in every stage of life. More than half of all births and more than two-thirds of all long term care stays were covered by SoonerCare last year.
Oklahoma spends roughly $5 billion annually on SoonerCare, much of that money is matched with federal dollars. In fact, for every $1 Oklahoma spends on SoonerCare, the federal government matches with $1.50. In the past, Oklahoma has opted not to take on federal money for state programs.
The BCRA was expected to be voted on this week. However, Senate GOP leaders suddenly postponed the vote on Tuesday after it became clear there would not be enough votes to pass the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he expects revisions to be finished by Friday.