State legislators should investigate and debate measures that would raise qualification standards for Oklahomans on Medicaid.

Measures remain alive in the state Legislature that could cut more than 40,000 Oklahomans from Medicaid rolls by raising income requirements or require able-bodied participants to work or volunteer 20 hours per week.

Legislators should consider and debate the proposed bills because it could help lead to a greater understanding of those on Medicaid in Oklahoma.

Many people throughout the nation believe too many people are gaming the system — taking government aid when they don’t deserve it.

Unfortunate people — people who need the help of those who are better off — have always been burdened by a negative perception.

Some believe anyone on government assistance must be lazy or cheating.

But more than 500,000 of the 798,000 Oklahomans on Medicaid are children. They are in need of help through no fault of their own.

Others are caring for dependent children, spouse or parents. 

The proposed legislation that would require able-bodied participants to work or volunteer 20 hours per week seems to be aimed at those who legislators feel are unfairly taking government handouts.

The Health Care Authority, which runs Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, estimates 14,807 able-bodied enrolled are not earning any income. That’s approximately 2 percent of participants.

That number hardly requires an overhaul of qualifications.

Admittedly, there always will be individuals who take from others. There always will be people who try to get something for nothing.

But the danger in creating sweeping alterations to Medicaid qualifications lies in those who won’t receive desperately needed help.

If legislators investigate and can find a real percentage of abuse, then maybe we would have something valid to discuss.

Otherwise, these bills just seem mean under the guise of cost-cutting.


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