Just a few weeks ago, Oklahoma was in a grim situation. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority was looking at the possibility of 25 percent cuts to the Medicaid provider rate, which would have caused hospitals and nursing homes all over the state to close. Then lawmakers put together a budget to prevent these deep cuts, but does the new budget solve an increasing budget problem, or does it just force us to face an even bigger problem down the road?
Who Will Be Affected By Service Cuts?
For an Oklahoma City mother and her 4-year-old son, the possibility that this new budget may cause future cuts to vital services is a life and death problem. The boy has Down’s Syndrome as well as a congenital heart defect, and to make matters even harder for this family, the boy has already had to battle cancer. Because of the major medical problems this 4-year-old has had to face, his mother relies upon Medicaid and Oklahoma’s disability services, but those programs are looking at future cuts.
How Deep Will Future Cuts Be?
Since Oklahoma has once again refused to use federal monies to expand Medicaid, the program is looking at cuts to provider rates. Though the new budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year will reduce those cuts from 25 percent to closer to 3 percent, many still believe that the budget is pushing the problem down the road, and that even bigger cuts could be in Medicaid’s future. Add in the fact that the budget does very little to help the state’s disability programs, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Is The Governor of Oklahoma Ignoring People With Disabilities?
In Oklahoma City, this disabled 4-year-old and his mom wait to see what the future holds for the disability benefits they need. The boy has been on the waitlist for the state’s disability home services for four years, but since most people have to wait 10 years to get off that list, the boy’s mother worries that the program will be cut down to nothing by the time her son is finally approved for benefits.
For now, they will continue to rely on Medicaid to get by, but if cuts continue, even that program could be cut to nothing. So this mother and son are now pleading with Gov. Mary Fallin and their representatives in the legislature to pass Medicaid expansion measures that would open up access to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money. However, politicians seem to be stuck in partisan infighting as thousands of Oklahomans with disabilities suffer a slow descent into poverty.
A message brought to you by the disability attorneys at Troutman & Troutman—helping Oklahomans get the benefits they need.