Concerns voiced on SoonerCare work requirements

Posted on: 8/1/18


SoonerCare members and providers are worried about a work requirement proposed by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA). An executive order by the governor and HB 2932 both directed OHCA to develop such a proposal after the Trump administration encouraged states to add these requirements to their Medicaid programs.

OHCA proposes to require at least 20 hours or more per week of work, volunteer work, job training, or community service for non-disabled members between 19 and 50 years old, with a number of exemptions. Exemptions would apply for those who are:
  • Pregnant, through the end of the postpartum period;
  • Medically certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment;
  • Parents or caretakers responsible for a dependent under the age of 6;
  • Parents or caretakers responsible for the care of an incapacitated person;
  • Persons complying with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work registration requirements;
  • Participating in a drug addiction or alcoholic treatment and program; or
  • Other exemptions listed in OHCA’s draft waiver amendment request.
No information was provided on the definitions of many of these terms, such as “incapacitated person” or “unfit for employment.”

In June, a federal judge blocked similar work requirements for Kentucky’s Medicaid program. The judge found that the Trump administration acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner by approving Kentucky’s work requirement without considering its effect on health coverage.

OHCA presented its draft proposal for work requirements to its Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) at a July 19 meeting. After questions and concerns were raised by MAC members, including Rick Snyder from OHA, the agency decided to delay action by the MAC until its next meeting in September.

OHCA is holding additional public meetings on the work requirement proposal around the state in August, including:
  • Aug. 7 at the Oklahoma Primary Care Association
  • Aug. 10 at the OU – Tulsa Schusterman Center – Learning Center
  • Aug. 28 at the Rural Roundtable in Alva

Details on these meetings, and others that may be scheduled, are listed here.

Public comments are accepted through August on the same OHCA webpage. At the end of July, nearly 500 comments had been posted.  

More information on Medicaid work requirements is available from the Oklahoma Policy Institute. (Rick Snyder)

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