by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer
Thousands of Oklahomans could lose health coverage if the state’s Medicaid program waiver request is granted by the federal government.
Oklahoma is asking the federal government for permission to cut off Oklahoma parents and caretakers who don’t report working enough hours every week.
Devyn Denton, BSN, RN, who is running for House District 39 in Edmond, says this could be catastrophic for Oklahoma families.
“This waiver has the potential to negatively impact health coverage for working families and Oklahomans on fixed incomes,” Denton said. “Between unassigned administrative costs for any additional program hurdles and the unaddressed chronic conditions that may prevent many medicare-eligible Oklahomans from working, this policy could remove healthcare from families and lead to a backlogged health care system further down the line.”
As a registered nurse, Denton says she has a passion for the health of all Oklahomans.
“Oklahoma is already making great strides to improving health with tobacco cessation programs statewide, and improving walkability across the state,” she said. “I hope to see both of these initiatives continue. In addition, increasing prenatal care and improving care for older Oklahomans on fixed incomes will improve health care outcomes throughout the lives of all Oklahomans and their families.”
A draft of Oklahoma’s plan became available for public comment for 60 days on July 3.
According to the non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute, the proposal creates serious problems for Oklahoma families, with or without jobs.
The Institute notes most non-elderly adult Medicaid enrollees work, but they have low-wage jobs that generally do not offer health insurance and are often unstable, with frequent job losses and work hours that can fluctuate sharply from month to month. As a result, many working parents would be at risk of losing coverage for one or more months under this proposal.
Furthermore, The Institute claims the proposal shows little regard for what happens if parents work themselves into the coverage crater by earning more than 46 percent of the federal poverty level (about $630 per month for a single mother with one child).
SoonerCare already cuts off at this income, which is only slightly above minimum wage for some families. Under this proposal, parents face a Catch-22. If they manage to work the hours needed to stay on SoonerCare, they would make too much to remain covered — even though they are still earning far below the poverty level. When that happens, they may not have other options to keep the health coverage they need.
This proposal would cut health coverage for people who don’t or can’t follow its rules, with catastrophic effects for entire families.
Oklahoma’s uninsured rate is already among the highest in the US, and losing health coverage can be catastrophic for the working families who use SoonerCare to get a checkup, control a chronic condition, treat mental illness, and more.
The purpose of SoonerCare is to provide access to health coverage for low-income Oklahoma families.
Denton says she’s running for the Oklahoma Legislature to make sure Oklahomans have a voice in these types of decisions.
“My background in medicine not only provides me with the institutional knowledge of the effects of legislation, it also has cemented in me an instinctual compassion through which I view the world around me,” Denton said. “I have experienced firsthand the physical side effects of poverty, the inaccessibility facing rural communities, and the very real struggle of insurance premiums on working families. All of these strengths have emboldened me to create a culture of service and care at the State Capitol.”
Denton will face the winner of the Aug. 28 Republican runoff on Tuesday, November 6.
“My neighbors and constituents want a leader they can trust to have their interests in mind, who leads with a servant’s heart to ensure the welfare of all Oklahomans is considered in making policy decisions,” she said. “Our constituents care about education, health care, and sensible infrastructure management. Addressing these core issues goes a long way in ensuring a bright future for Edmond and Oklahoma. “
Denton grew up in rural Oklahoma, attended school in Tahlequah before pursuing her college degree at UCO. She grew up in a family of educators and military service members.
She now works as a nurse within the community and is the founder of a nonprofit serving those who serve our community.
Denton formed Operation Nurses Helping Nurses after witnessing the impact of a tornado in May 2013.
That organization has reached out numerous times during natural disasters in our state and man-made tragedies such as shootings in other states.
For more information you can visit her web site devyn4ok.com.