Attorney general seeks to rework Medicaid expansion petition
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court should reject a proposed petition to expand Medicaid because the summary contradicts the body of the petition concerning income eligibility for the public health insurance program, according to the state's attorney general's office.
The petition was filed on behalf of two residents in April. The proposed question would modify Oklahoma's constitution to extend the federal-state health insurance program "to certain low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 65 whose income does not exceed 133% of the federal poverty level."
The attorney general's office said in a court briefing Thursday that the proposed petition is otherwise constitutional, The Oklahoman reported.
"The substance of the Petition at issue is legally valid and challenges to its constitutionality must be rejected, but the gist is inaccurate and therefore should be struck," the AG's brief states. "This will allow Petitioners to correct the legal flaws in the gist, file a new petition, and circulate it with ample time before the 2020 general election, while also rejecting or avoiding new restrictions proposed by Protestants that will permanently burden the right to initiative and referendum."
The petition's supporters also filed a brief with the court Thursday insisting that the Supreme Court maintain the petition's language and its constitutionality.
The petition aims to put the question before Oklahoma voters in the next general election, which would be November 2020. The petition's advocates would need to amass nearly 178,000 signatures to qualify the question for the ballot.
Oklahoma is one of 14 states that haven't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The extension would provide roughly $900 million a year in federal funds and cost over $100 million a year in state money.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, which opposes Medicaid expansion, filed a protest in early May saying the petition's summary was lawfully insufficient.
"Because federal law only permits Medicaid expansion for those adults at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, this statement is legally inaccurate," the OCPA protest states.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments on June 18 before making a final decision at a later date.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com