OKLAHOMA CITY - Protesters were on the steps of the capitol on Wednesday speaking out, demanding the state expand its Medicaid coverage.
“It's important to keep Oklahoma healthy, and we want to get rid of the national embarrassment we have that Oklahoma is at the bottom of health care coverage," said Mary from Norman.
Right now, Oklahoma is one of 13 states that is not accepting federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion.
“Other states have found a way to accept federal funds to help insure their low income uninsured people in their state, including many conservative states," said Patti Davis, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. “We can not take medicaid expansion as it sits, but I'm going to come up with a plan b. We're all about getting federal dollars into our system but - by expanding Medicaid, by expanding the amount of people that we cover - we already cover the blind, the disabled, the elderly so there is a better way to look at getting dollars into our system that I will share with Oklahomans.”
Governor Kevin Stitt said accepting the money from Washington has hidden costs. Oklahoma would pick up an estimated 10 percent of the bill that federal aid wouldn’t cover.
“I'm also going to be thinking about tax payers. Nobody really talks about the cost and burdening tax payers for 200 million but up to a billion dollars in the future and, as governor, I'm going to tell them exactly unintended consequences are of expanding Medicaid,” Stitt said.
On Tuesday, organizers helped to file a ballot that would, with enough signatures, put the question of Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote in 2020.
“I would love for the legislature to move fast. I think the faster the better, but we are working on a ballot issue to try to fix that,” Mary said.
“If they sign it, then I will put it on a ballot for a vote but I will make sure that people will understand that there is another option,” Stitt said.