Push continues to put Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote

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OKLAHOMA CITY - You might have seen volunteers with clipboards asking for your signature to support expanded Medicaid in Oklahoma this weekend. They  call it "Yes on State Question 802."

When the Affordable Care Act was passed under President Obama, states were allowed to expand the number of residents covered by Medicaid.

Most states said yes - Oklahoma did not.

Some Oklahomans made too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

More than 110,000 Oklahomans fell into a coverage "gap" with no insurance at all.

Today, supporters of the expansion held events for 'Yes on 802' all over the state. Organizers and volunteers out in force, continuing the process of getting the signatures necessary to put Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote.

"It's an important way to ensure that Oklahomans are healthy and productive," said Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oklahoma Nurses Association.

Proponents of expanding federal medical coverage held events in Miami, Enid, Ardmore, McAlester, Duncan, Tulsa and Oklahoma City on Saturday.

They need to get 178,000 Oklahomans to sign on the line by Oct. 28 so then question 802 can be put to a statewide vote.

"This brings federal dollars back into Oklahoma that Oklahoma taxpayers have paid to the federal government," said Nelson.

But not all agree.

Governor Stitt, along with some House and Senate leaders, have been against the expansion.

They say the current plan for Medicaid would actually cost the state money and there are better ways to get federal healthcare dollars.

"The straight-up Medicaid expansion is a cookie-cutter approach and we need something more tailored to our citizens. There are plans out there. This thing is totally doable. So, we are ready to get to work and figure out if we can put a dent in our health rankings," said Rep. Marcus McEntire of Duncan.

But for some at Saturday's event, the push to expand Medicaid is personal.

Erin Taylor's son had significant medical issues from birth.

"He had a heart transplant when he was four years old and he also has an intellectual disability. And if we didn't have Medicaid as our secondary insurance to provide his care, it would have bankrupted my family. I want to see other families have the benefits that my family does," said Taylor.

Organizers of 'Yes on 802' say if they can get the necessary signatures, they could likely get the question of the ballot for November 2020.

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