Health Care

SoonerCare enrollment skyrockets

May 14, 2018

Curtis Shelton

SoonerCare is Oklahoma’s fast-growing Medicaid program. How fast? Since 2000, total annual enrollment in SoonerCare has grown from 416,785 to 1,052,826 enrollees. That amounts to a 153% increase over a period when Oklahoma’s total population grew by 14%.

Total Oklahoma Annual Enrollment

The graph below shows the percentage of Oklahomans enrolled in SoonerCare. In fiscal year 2000, only 12% of all Oklahomans were enrolled. Fast forward to 2016 and enrollees have grown to 27% of all Oklahomans.

Percent of Oklahoma Population Enrolled in SoonerCare

As the enrollee population has grown, taxpayers have been asked to spend more and more on medical welfare costs. When adjusting for inflation, total expenditures by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority have grown by nearly $3 billion since fiscal year 2000.

Total Oklahoma Health Care Authority Expenditures

An article in The Wall Street Journal points out how this growth in Medicaid spending has crowded out funding for other government services, such as education. This legislative session saw progress in moving the SoonerCare program back to benefiting those who truly need it while also freeing up more of the state budget for other core services. Medicaid enrollment audits (House Bill 1270) and work requirements (House Bill 2932) were both signed by Gov. Mary Fallin. Former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn and Dr. Doug Beall have weighed in with more ideas that would control the unsustainable growth in Medicaid and refocus the program on helping the most vulnerable to receive the care they need.