Every year, Oklahoma legislators file at least a handful of bills that are a waste of time. These useless pieces of legislation are most often buried in committees and rarely see the light of day but provide useful insight into the priorities of some of the men and women we've sent to the Capitol.
One such bill this year was just proposed by Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan. Senate Bill 40 would eliminate the Soon-To-Be-Sooners program, which provides pregnancy and maternity services to low-income women in the state of Oklahoma. Not only would SB 40 remove funding for this program, it would result in the loss of millions of dollars in matching federal money.
Here's how Soon-To-Be-Sooners works, according to Kassie McClung of The Frontier: Women who earn 138 percent to 185 percent of the federal poverty level (which is $12,140 for a single individual and $25,100 for a family of four) receive limited services from the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which is funded by both federal and state tax dollars.
Non-citizens who earn up to 185 percent of the federal poverty limit receive limited services under CHIP. They qualify for the program because, under federal law, their newborns are citizens at birth. The program covers services like sonograms, regular checkups and delivery.
The federal portion of CHIP funding requires that states not reduce eligibility benefits through Fiscal Year 2027. If SB 40 were to pass, Oklahoma would lose more than $90 million in federal funding.
Soon-To-Be-Sooners benefited almost 10,000 women with $15.7 million in reimbursements during the last fiscal year. Of those women, 3,629 were citizens, while 6,227 were not. The program cost federal government $14.8 million and Oklahoma about $900,000.
Scott's issue with Soon-To-Be-Sooners is apparently the fact that it provides services to non-citizens, even though their children, when born, are U.S. citizens, and that eliminating the program would eliminate services for both citizen and non-citizen pregnant women alike.
It's a heartless, immoral piece of legislation that shouldn't see the floor in the Senate, much like Scott's previous incarnation of this bill. Regardless of your thoughts on immigration, SB 40 would most likely lead the state to lose federal funding and mean thousands of Oklahomans would not receive key prenatal and maternity care.
Shame on Sen. Scott.