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Less than a week after applications opened for the Oklahoma Medicaid expansion, over 50,000 citizens have signed up to receive benefits. That’s roughly a quarter of the expected registrations for Oklahomans who now qualify for Medicaid.
Over 65% of the new applications are from women, reflecting the unique needs of Oklahoma residents and community members. Providing health coverage for women means in turn that entire families, many with children, will receive health care under the new Oklahoma guidelines.
The registration push also shows the necessity of comprehensive health care coverage for all Oklahomans. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan independent policy think tank for all statewide matters, the high number of registrants is indicative that Oklahomans want better health care.
A “hard-fought battle”
The sign-ups “certainly tracks with the pent up demand for Oklahomans to secure health care coverage,” given the state’s high uninsured rates, said Emma Morris, health care and revenue policy analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute. The expanded Medicaid coverage will begin next month, on July 1.
State Question 802, the Oklahoma Medicaid Expansion effort, was supported by voters last year in the 2020 elections. Oklahomans decisively voted to expand coverage to low-income citizens who qualify for Medicaid health insurance.
“I’m just so grateful that the folks who need care are going to get it. This has been such a long, hard-fought battle,” said Amber England, campaign manager for the Yes on 802 policy reform measure. “It’s well past time that these folks have access to care.”
Eligible Oklahomans encouraged to apply
While Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt pushed for health care block grants and managed care, a hallmark of disgraced, twice-impeached former President Donald Trump, Oklahoma voters repudiated his suggestions at the polls last November. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled that Governor Stitt’s program was invalid, paving the way for the Medicaid Expansion to continue.
While the Supreme Court ruling appeared to be a barrier for Oklahomans, the ruling does not change eligibility for citizens to register for Medicaid. “The Supreme Court ruling has nothing to do with Medicaid expansion applications opening on June 1,” said Melissa Richey, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, noting that citizens do need specific documentation in order to apply, including taxable income and social security cards.
Applications are accepted online, through the mail, and over the phone. To register for Medicaid, visit mysoonercare.org or call the SoonerCare hotline at 800-987-7767.