Thousands lose SoonerCare benefits

By Jeff Raymond Modified: December 14, 2007 at 4:30 pm •  Published: December 14, 2007
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TULSA — Almost 6,000 SoonerCare enrollees lost coverage Dec. 1 because they were unable to provide proof of citizenship, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced at its monthly meeting Thursday.

Most of the 5,841 people who lost Medicaid benefits through the SoonerCare program are U.S. citizens, the authority said in a news release.

The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 changed how states must verify citizenship for Medicaid services. U.S. citizenship has always been a requirement to qualify for Medicaid. Federal law, however, now requires a birth certificate or other documentation as proof.

How to reapply
Nico Gomez, director of governmental and public affairs for the authority, said the simplest way to reapply for services is to bring a birth certificate to a local Department of Human Services office. SoonerCare enrollees having trouble putting together their documents should contact DHS.

Those at risk of losing coverage may reapply during December without being dropped. Those at risk in the coming months may reapply in the month they are to be dropped.

"The eligibility starts in the month that you apply or you reapply,” Gomez said, predicting some 5,500 people would lose coverage in January.

Many who lost coverage had trouble getting birth certificates from other states or moved and didn't know their coverage was in danger, Gomez said.

Previously, SoonerCare enrollees had to attest they were U.S. citizens.

The health care authority has worked in partnership with the state's social service agencies to comply with the changes and ensure Medicaid recipients meet requirements. In November, according to the release, the authority mailed final-notice letters. Those who lost coverage were notified at least four times before the cut-off. Citizenship documentation requirements

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Who's affected

Demographics of those who lost coverage:

•62 percent are

children

•38 percent are adults

•58 percent are white

•18 percent are black

•13 percent are American Indian

•10 percent are

Hispanic

•1 percent are Asian

Source: Oklahoma Health

Care Authority

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