MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 3, 2014

Forum slated on state's Medicaid program

Federal health law questioned in prior sessions

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— People with questions about SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, may want to come to a community forum Wednesday.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers SoonerCare, will conduct the forum from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Muscogee Indian Community Center, 335 N. Fourth St.

“This is going to be open for anyone, whether they are on SoonerCare or not,” said Jennie Melendez, the authority’s senior public information representative.

Melendez said the forum will be an informal question-and-answer session led by the audience.

“We try to go to different parts of the state and bring people from different programs,” Melendez said, adding that some executive staff members are expected.

People also can help other Oklahomans by donating used medical equipment at the forum, Melendez said. People can donate lightly used medical equipment such as wheelchairs, nebulizers, walkers or scooters.

“We have a program within the durable medical equipment program in which people can donate items they no longer need,” she said. “We recycle for people who need them. We will have a van for people who want to donate.”

Melendez said the effects of the federal Affordable Care Act have been a big concern at recent forums.

“There are certainly a lot of questions with the Affordable Care Act and with the healthcare.gov website,” Melendez said. “We wanted to make sure the community we are serving of 800,000-plus members get the answers.”

According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s website, Muskogee County has 19,709 people enrolled in SoonerCare. Cherokee County has 11,860, Wagoner County has 11,459 and McIntosh County has 5,186.

“The Affordable Care Act did not have that many implications for Oklahoma since the governor decided not to go ahead with the Medicaid expansions,” Melendez said. “There were parts of the law we had to enact. The main thing is a change in coverage for pregnant women.”

Melendez said women living up to 133 percent of the poverty level would receive the full scope of poverty benefits. Those living above that level would get limited benefits.

There also has been a change in how income eligibility is calculated, she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHAT: SoonerCare community forum.

WHEN: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

WHERE: Muscogee Indian Community Center, 335 N. Fourth St.

You can help

Donations of lightly used wheelchairs, nebulizers, and scooters will be accepted at the SoonerCare Community Forum at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Muscogee Indian Community Center, 335 N. Fourth St.