Seven national organizations representing patients with serious medical conditions criticized Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday for rolling out his Medicaid expansion plan during the coronavirus pandemic.
The organizations, including the American Heart Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, released a statement calling for the state to withdraw its application immediately.
"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.
Stitt, a Republican, wants to take advantage of a block grant-style Medicaid expansion offered by the Trump administration that would give states more control over Medicaid in exchange for a limit on how much the feds kick in. One requirement Stitt wants to impose would make recipients pay premiums and either work or volunteer in the community.
Stitt has touted his plan, which he's dubbed SoonerCare 2.0, as an alternative to a citizen-led Medicaid expansion that has qualified for a public vote this year. If approved, that plan would put Medicaid expansion in the Oklahoma Constitution to prevent lawmakers from tinkering with it.
In a statement Friday, Stitt said his proposal would extend health coverage to low-income Oklahomans a full year sooner than the alternative proposal and would give the state more flexibility.
"The logic behind pulling back the SoonerCare 2.0 waiver application is flawed," Stitt said. "A global health crisis is exactly the time we should be seeking to expand coverage for Oklahomans."
Stitt also said the comment period on the state's waiver application has been moved online and that the state's Medicaid agency, the Health Care Authority, is also accepting comments via phone, mail and email.