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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services visits Tulsa on Oklahoma’s first day of Medicaid expansion

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Published: Last Updated on
xavier becerra medicaid expansion oklahoma

United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra in Tulsa  at Friendship Church in Tulsa, Okla. on Thursday, July 1, 2021 as the first day of Oklahoma’s medicaid expansion program begins. (Photo by Mike Creef / The Black Wall Street Times)

United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra stopped in Tulsa at Friendship Church Thursday afternoon to congratulate Oklahomans on “expanding access to peace of mind”. 

“By the way, peace of mind means health care,” Becerra said. 

On July 1, Oklahoma became the 39th state to expand access to Medicaid. The program, which was approved by voters through State Question 802, will allow an additional 200,000 Oklahoma residents access to SoonerCare 2.0 health insurance.

Oklahoman’s expanded medicaid program now active

“What Oklahomans did a year ago was send a resounding message,” Becerra said. “For the more than 500,000 Oklahomans who still have no insurance, there’s some good news. Close to 200,000 of you will now have access to it as a result of your vote and the Medicaid expansion that starts today.” 

According to Melissa Richey, Chief Communications Officer for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, “There are so many Oklahomans out there who don’t realize they qualify. These are college students who are going to school right now who may not have any insurance at all, and they qualify for these benefits. If you even think you qualify, go ahead and go through the process.” 

Oklahoma a step closer to insuring all residents

Carly Putnam, policy director for Oklahoma Policy Institute, echoed Becerra’s comments on the importance of those who are uninsured finally getting access to coverage. “Oklahoma has had the second-highest uninsured rate in the U.S. Too many Oklahomans have been rationing their care or going completely without for chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. Even acute episodes like a broken elbow could derail their entire life. This is also an opportunity to begin to close the gap on racial health outcomes that has plagued our state for so long.”

Becerra noted that millions more Oklahomans now have access to health care thanks to the program.

“Oklahomans joined several million other Americans who have so far moved forward towards peace of mind. Today, we can say that there’s some 10 million more Americans who have access to health care because of the Medicaid program across the country,” Becerra said.

To find out if you qualify for Medicaid, Click Here.

1 comment

Andrea Pierson July 1, 2021 - 4:39 pm

SoonerCare didn’t offer dental cleaning for members before today but didn’t specify how often you can receive the service.

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