Oklahoma votes to decide whether to expand Medicaid

Oklahoma votes to decide whether to expand Medicaid

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Oklahoma voters on Tuesday decide to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income residents and become the first state to amend their constitution to that end.

While an increasing number of voters in Oklahoma benefited from voting by mail for Tuesday’s primary elections, polls across the state are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, and Utah have all expanded Medicaid through voting questions, but did so by changing state statutes, according to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Amendments to the Oklahoma Constitution will prevent the Republican-controlled legislature, which has opposed the expansion of Medicaid for 10 years, from tinkering with the program or reversing its reporting. Voters in Missouri will also decide on a constitutional change on August 4.

State Question 802 would extend Medicaid’s health insurance coverage to those who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which is about $ 17,200 for an individual or $ 35,500 for a family of four.

Oklahoma is one of 14 states, along with neighboring Texas and Kansas, that did not extend Medicaid under the 2010 Federal Affordable Care Act 2010. Republican Governor Kevin Stitt and his predecessor, Mary Fallin, are both opposed to expansion, citing uncertainty about future costs to the state.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has predicted that approximately 215,000 residents would be eligible for a Medicaid extension, for a total annual cost of approximately $ 1.3 billion. The estimated state share is said to be approximately $ 164 million. But those numbers could be significantly higher, given the number of Oklahomans who lost their jobs and work-related health insurance because of the economic halt during the coronavirus pandemic.

If the proposal is passed, the legislator is expected to increase the fee that hospitals pay from 2.5% to 4%, which would generate about $ 134 million annually. Stitt vetoed such a measure earlier this year.

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