A bill that could limit the number of Oklahomans eligible for Medicaid left the senate on Wednesday and is currently being workshopped by the state House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 1030 would further restrict the number of able-bodied parents eligible for Medicaid.
Senator Josh Brecheen, who introduced the bill, said the money could be used to fund a $1,400 teacher pay raise and called the state’s spending priorities “out of balance” in a statement.
Senator Frank Simpson, who voted for the bill to advance, said it is a work in progress.
“If it stays in its current form, I will not support it when it comes back to the Senate,” Simpson said. “The earnings limits are too high. The current format might eliminate some people who really need to be in it.”
The legislation would direct the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to seek approval from the federal government to change Medicaid eligibility requirements.
“We need to have a way to make sure people who need it are provided for, but we don’t want to be subsidizing those who could be taking advantage of it,” Simpson said.
Simpson serves on the Health and Human Services Committee. The bill passed the Senate 25 to 17 and will now go to a House committee, and should be up for consideration next week.
The bill would lower the Medicaid recipient income threshold to 20 percent of the Federal Poverty Level for those who are able-bodied parents/ caretakers. Currently, the threshold sits at 46 percent. The reduction is projected to save $84,104,184 for Fiscal Year 2019.
Oklahoma Health Care Authority spokesperson Jo Stainsby said in its current form, the measure would remove an estimated 43,611 people from Medicaid, based on data from the 2017 fiscal year.
The bill would not affect recipients who are pregnant, disabled or elderly.
According to the United States Census Bureau, between 12 and 13.9 percent of Oklahoma’s residents lacked health insurance last year.