HB 1270 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to subject SoonerCare members to enhanced verification procedures to determine eligibility for benefits.

In an earlier form, those eligibility determinations would have been quarterly, and it also would have required the Department of Human Services to create redundant administrative burdens for SoonerCare (Medicaid) and SNAP (food stamps), the two largest safety net programs that serve hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, mostly children, parents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. This cookie-cutter legislation from a national advocacy group would impose significant costs on overburdened and underfunded state agencies. Our blog post on HB 1270 is available here.

Where Things Stand (as of 03/27/17)

HB 1270 passed the House on March 22nd 63-25, largely along party lines. Many of the bill’s most damaging provisions were stripped out during debate: all references to SNAP were removed, and the bill would only require enhanced verification for Medicaid annually, instead of quarterly as the bill originally proposed. However, those provisions can still be added back in later. HB 1270 has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee. 

What You Can Do

As it stands now, HB 1270 is relatively harmless. However, lawmakers may attempt to reinstate the bill’s harmful provisions later. We’ll let you know if they do, and if that happens, let your lawmakers know why this bill is a bad idea using the talking points below. 

These talking points refer to an earlier version of HB 1270.

Talking Points

Download these talking points as a fact sheet

HB 1270 would impose an unfunded mandate on overburdened and underfunded agencies.

  • HB 1270 would be expensive to enforce – and it’s unnecessary. Federal agencies require states to adhere to a strict verification process and audit states regularly.
  • Our state agencies simply don’t have the workforce to conduct the intensive quarterly verification HB 1270 would require.
    • DHS estimates that implementing HB 1270 would require them to hire 500-600 additional workers, at a cost of $10.5-11.5 million [source]. This is money that is better spent actually serving those in need. [An earlier draft of this factsheet undercounted both the number of additional workers and the cost.]
  • Due to budget cuts, DHS has shed hundreds of jobs and needs some $40 million in supplemental appropriations to make it through the current fiscal year
  • Oklahoma already requires SNAP households to be recertified every six months.

HB 1270 is cookie-cutter language drafted by a national lobbying group that doesn’t reflect Oklahoma needs.

  • The language of HB 1270 is taken virtually word-for-word from model language proposed by the Foundation for Governmental Accountability (FGA). The Foundation for Government Accountability is a Florida-based organization providing cookie-cutter legislation to dozens of states, regardless of the real circumstances on the ground.
  • Versions of this bill have surfaced in a number of states, including Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and more.

HB 1270 is a solution in search of a problem.

  • There’s no evidence of widespread abuse or fraud in SNAP or SoonerCare, and their respective agencies already implement rigorous verification and fraud investigation processes.
  • SNAP error rates have fallen steadily for more than a decade, and our improper payments rate for Medicaid is very low.

HB 1270 would limit state flexibility in administering federal programs.

  • By limiting categorical eligibility for SNAP, HB 1270 would limit the agency’s ability to implement the program in ways that best responds to our state’s needs and ensures vulnerable Oklahomans have access to needed food.
  • Eliminating categorical eligibility would disincentivize building equity and saving for the future among families receiving SNAP. 
  • All but 10 states use categorical eligibility to help vulnerable families access food assistance.

HB 1270 will put barriers between low-income families and the aid they need.

  • Use of independent vendors and quarterly recertifications can produce false or out-of-date results that could yank health care or food assistance away from families that qualify for them honestly. We should not be putting more barriers in the path to prosperity for low-income Oklahoma families.
  • This will create more work for the state workers that have to resolve errors and reinstate families improperly cut from health care and food assistance.

You can look up your Senator and Representative here, call the House switchboard at 405-521-2711, and call the Senate switchboard at 405-524-0126.

See our Advocacy Toolkit page for more information and resources.