Incoming House Speaker T.W. Shannon recently suggested that SoonerCare/Medicaid enrollees in Oklahoma should get “off of Medicaid and back to work.” The idea that the Medicaid program is providing health care to adults who are choosing not to work is simply mistaken: the vast majority of those enrolled are children and low-income women during pregnancy (74 percent), and seniors and people with disabilities (19 percent). Only 7 percent of Medicaid enrollees in Oklahoma are able bodied working-aged adults; such adults are only eligible if they have dependent children and earn less than $7,063/yr for a family of three.
This analysis excludes SoonerPlan enrollees, who receive only a limited family planning benefit and are not enrolled in comprehensive Medicaid coverage. A small number of enrollees categorized as disabled and/or chronically ill were also excluded because of discrepancies reconciling with total enrollment.
The Governor, with the support of legislative leadership, recently announced that she would not be participating in a Medicaid expansion to cover more uninsured low-income adults, leaving roughly 150,000 uninsured adults in Oklahoma with no options for health coverage. Over 600,000 Oklahomans are without health insurance coverage; one out of two adults with income below the poverty level are uninsured.
- For more information about the Governor’s decision and how it will affect the state, check out our resource page: “Expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma makes sense.“
- For a basic introduction to Medicaid in Oklahoma, including more details on enrollees and how the program is paid for, view or download our issue brief: “Medicaid 101: The SoonerCare Safety Net.“