When Erin Taylor heard about the proposed HOPE act, HB1270, she had anything but. The mother of a son with disabilities, they depend on the very services the act could make it harder to receive.
“It insinuates that we're sort of the duplicitous group trying make grand gains from Medicaid dollars,” Taylor said.
The full name is the Act to restore Hope, Opportunity, and Prosperity for Everyone.
Oklahomans with disabilities would have to show their immigration status, criminal history, lottery winnings and federal disability designation, to name a few. It would also require those attempting to receive or renew their state aid status to pass a “knowledge-based quiz using financial and personal questions,” although that kind of testing is against federal law.
The bill's author, Oklahoma City Republican Elise Hall, says the bill is designed to prevent fraud, not prevent folks from getting state aid. Although she couldn't give us any evidence it was happening.
“It's hard to know what's currently happening in Oklahoma,” Hall said. “There've been other states that had 7,000 people that won the lottery, in some sort of fashion, that were still on government assistance.”
She added that there were an estimated 14,000 cases of Medicaid recipients who had died in Illinois that were still receiving benefits.
But for parents like Erin, it's what's happening here that makes her worried.
“I have come to expect some parts, some legislators to be really dismissive to people with disabilities, to be very disrespectful and suspicious of people who are poor. It's not a great look for our state,” Taylor said.
HB1270 is currently in the Senate. Should it be amended, it would have to go back to the House of Representatives before heading to the Governor’s desk.