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Tuesday, May 21st, 2019Last Update: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 11:03:32 AM

Medicaid Initiative Petition Filed

By: Constitution Staff

A filing was made at the Oklahoma Secretary of State office on April 19 for proposed State Question 802. The ballot initiative would make a change to the Oklahoma Constitution, which currently require 177,958 valid signatures for it to be placed on the ballot. Signature collection would extend for 90 days after any challenges have been. The proposed ballot language would read:

“This measure adds a new Article to the Oklahoma Constitution. The new Article would expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program to include certain low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who income does not exceed 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as permitted under the federal Medicaid laws.”

The proposal would expand Medicaid eligibility to the entire Obamacare expansion population of able-bodied adults, accesses Obamacare expansion funding, and would be subject to all Obamacare regulations. The filing was made by the prominent Crowe & Dunlevy law firm, but the identity of the client was not disclosed.

The filing is believed to be a means to place pressure on the Oklahoma Legislature to pass Senate Bill 605 which would also bring about Medicaid expansion. The Obamacare Medicaid proposal, either by legislative action, or by a state question, would be a massive expansion of welfare that will add an estimated 628,000 able-bodied adults to Oklahoma’s welfare rolls. While much of the initial cost of the expansion would be paid from federal funds, it put Oklahoma on the hook for a state share that could run into hundreds of millions. The federal government would pay 90% of the costs of the expansion in Oklahoma with an estimated $900 million per year, but Oklahoma would have to cover the remaining 10%. Oklahoma is one of 14 states that have not signed up for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs (OCPA), issued a statement following the filing of the ballot initiative:

“Make no mistake, expanding Obamacare in Oklahoma will result in the state seeing the same problems as every other state that has gone down this path. Enrollment levels will be far higher than what expansion supporters predict, at significantly higher costs, to achieve significantly lower outcomes than promised. If you doubt it, just look at states comparable to Oklahoma that expanded Medicaid. Cost overruns in Arkansas have topped $1.4 billion, and Kentucky’s ranking on health outcomes remains low, despite Kentucky spending far more taxpayer money on Medicaid.”

Small warned that the initiative could result in tax increases to cover the cost overruns:

“States across the country that have expanded Medicaid have had to resort to tax increases, and the same fate awaits Oklahomans should Medicaid expand. And the growing costs of Medicaid will endanger funding for other government services like education and public safety.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt indicated that he will oppose the state question if it is placed before voters in the 2020 general election.

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