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Petition filed for Oklahoma vote to expand Medicaid

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Supporters of expanding Medicaid filed an initiative petition on Friday to let Oklahoma voters decide whether to make more low-income people eligible for the federal-state health insurance program.

The proposed question would amend Oklahoma’s constitution to expand Medicaid “to certain low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 65 whose income does not exceed 133 percent of the federal poverty level.”

The petition seeks to put the question before Oklahoma voters in the next general election, which would be November 2020.

Under state law, initiative petitions require the signatures of eligible voters equal to 15 percent of the votes cast in the last election for governor.

Based on last year’s election, supporters would have to gather nearly 178,000 signatures to qualify the question for the ballot.

The petition was filed on behalf of two state residents, one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa, though it was not clear on Friday evening who was sponsoring the petition drive.

The Oklahoma City resident listed is Kelly Smalley, a single mother who recently appeared at a healthcare forum sponsored by Together Oklahoma, which supports Medicaid expansion.

The group is part of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, based in Tulsa, which advocates for low-income Oklahomans.

Medicaid expansion was part of the Affordable Care Act. A U.S. Supreme Court decision gave states the option to expand eligibility for the program.

Oklahoma is one of 14 states that has not expanded Medicaid.

Oklahoma’s Republican governors and lawmakers have rejected calls to expand Medicaid, which would provide an estimated $900 million a year in federal money and cost over $100 million in state funds.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is opposed to expansion.

Republican opposition has been overcome in some states such as Utah and Idaho through ballot questions.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›

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