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Senator wants to strip prenatal health care for low-income women

Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan

Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan

A state senator wants to strip prenatal health care from undocumented mothers, even though the unborn child will become a U.S. citizen. Elimination of the program also would impact thousands of citizens.

Senate Bill 40, authored by Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, would end the state's Soon-to-Be-Sooners program, which funds ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins and other medical services for low-income pregnant women.

Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care, according to statistics published by the Office on Women's Health.

The Soon-to-Be-Sooners program served about 9,800 women in fiscal year 2018 and paid out more than $15.7 million in reimbursements, according to data provided by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and first reported by The Frontier.

“Our responsibility is to the taxpayers of this state, not illegal immigrants," Scott said in a Senate news release.

Scott did not respond to a phone call or text message requesting comment, but has defended his position on social media by claiming the program encourages illegal immigration.

" ... it's a difficult position for a pro-life advocate," Scott wrote on Facebook, referring to himself. "This attraction for illegals to make their way to Oklahoma is costing millions to tax payers to provide care, food and educate the children of illegals."

Undocumented residents are not eligible for Medicaid services, but do qualify for the Soon-to-Be-Sooners program because the child is a U.S. citizen.

“When that child is born, by law, he will be a United States citizen,” said Jo Stainsby, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. "Because he will be a member of SoonerCare, we want him to be as healthy as possible."

Sixty-three percent of women on the Soon-to-Be-Sooners program are undocumented, according to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

But eliminating the program would cut off services to 3,600 women who are U.S. citizens.

Pregnant women who are between 138 percent to 185 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the Soon-to-Be-Sooners program.

Noncitizens up to 185 percent are eligible, which is a federal requirement for SoonerCare to receive Children's Health Insurance Program funds.

Scott's bill makes no distinction between citizens and undocumented residents.

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›