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Many To Lose Insurance As Public Health Emergency Ends

Some 300,000 Oklahoma adults and children may lose access to health care coverage through the state’s SoonerCare program in the coming year.

That’s because of a change being made in rules that govern who may qualify for coverage. The rules were relaxed in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent people from losing access to health care at that critical time. Now, with the public health emergency set to officially expire in May, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has ordered state agencies like the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to revert to pre-pandemic rules. Read the full Journal Record article…

At Oklahoma’s Health Alliance for the Uninsured, Executive Director Jeanean Jones said the pending disenrollment of people from Medicaid likely will leave safety-net providers in the state, already stretched thin, at a breaking point.

“By attempting to serve the existing 535,000 Oklahomans who are without health insurance, the state’s safety-net providers are now working at or beyond capacity based upon available resources,” she said in an email. “The abrupt disenrollment from Medicaid of an additional 300,000 residents who are currently receiving Medicaid benefits risks pressing the safety-net to a breaking point, leaving these newly uninsured individuals no choice, but to seek medical care from our state’s hospital emergency departments when they become ill.”

Jones added that recent studies of the Kaiser Family Foundation found that people who become uninsured tend to remain uninsured for at least nine to 12 months before regaining coverage.

“The costs in charity care provided through hospital emergency departments during the two years following disenrollment could grow astronomically if alternative solutions are not identified,” she cautioned.

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