Catholic bishops throw support behind push to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In just a few weeks, Oklahoma voters will be able to voice their opinions on Medicaid expansion in the Sooner State.

In recent years, there has been a push across the state to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma.

Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2014, Oklahoma has rejected federal money for Medicaid expansion.

​”Right now, the fact that we’re not accepting Medicaid expansion, we’re turning away over a billion dollars a year annually​,” Yes on 802 Campaign Manager Amber England said.

Volunteers turn in signatures for Yes on 802
Volunteers turn in signatures for Yes on 802

In October, volunteers with ‘Yes on 802’ turned in thousands of signatures in order to get State Question 802, which would expand Medicaid, on the ballot. The group needed 178,000 signatures to move their petition forward.

In the end, the group broke a state record for turning in the most signatures in state history with 313,000. After being analyzed by the Secretary of State’s office, the agency verified 300,000 signatures.Data pix.

Opponents of that move say the cost of expanding Medicaid is simply too expensive.

​”Any state that does Medicaid expansion is responsible for 10 percent of the costs, whatever they are,” Jonathan Small, President of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said.

The federal government pays the other 90 percent of the expansion.

Volunteers turn in signatures for Yes on 80
Volunteers turn in signatures for Yes on 802

Now, Oklahomans will be able to voice their opinion on expanding Medicaid in the Sooner State.

State Question 802 will be placed on the June 30th primary election ballot.

On Monday, the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma announced that it was throwing its support behind the push to expand Medicaid to more Oklahomans in need.

On June 30, Oklahomans will cast an important vote on State Question 802 about whether to expand Medicaid. Our state’s SoonerCare program currently provides critical health coverage to Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and children. This program plays a vital role in sustaining the health care delivery system in our state, particularly in rural areas where access to quality health care is increasingly unavailable.

However, based on the clients we help through the work of Catholic Charities and with patients seeking care at our Catholic hospitals, it is apparent that access to affordable health care coverage — which is so necessary for human flourishing — is becoming less available over time.

This is why we support expanding such an essential program and lend our voices in favor of SQ 802. We seek better health outcomes for our fellow Oklahomans and that requires all of us to step into the breach and make those outcomes possible.

While we agree that amending the state constitution is a method that should be reserved for special circumstances, our present health care crisis demands action that cannot wait for a political solution. Additionally, we offer our support conditioned on a continuation of federal pro-life protections in Medicaid through the Hyde Amendment. We urge our fellow Catholics and others of goodwill to join us in support of this important effort to improve the lives of Oklahoma families.

Oklahoma Catholic bishops statement

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