Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Home Global Oklahoma voters approve Medicaid expansion as coronavirus cases climb

Oklahoma voters approve Medicaid expansion as coronavirus cases climb

The background: Deep-red Oklahoma had been one of just 14 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid under Obamacare and has the nation’s second-highest uninsured rate, behind Texas. But even top Republican officials in Oklahoma recently acknowledged the state would eventually expand Medicaid coverage — it was just a question of how.

Supporters of the ballot measure focused on how Medicaid expansion would increase health care access in Oklahoma and help save the state’s struggling rural hospitals after a run of closures. Opponents contended the program would bankrupt the state, especially during a pandemic that’s whacked Oklahoma’s budget.

Ballot organizers said the coronavirus crisis would help make their case for expanding Medicaid. The average number of new cases in Oklahoma has more than doubled in the past month, and the state reported a record 585 new infections on Tuesday.

The impact: At least 200,000 Oklahoman adults will be newly eligible for Medicaid, but program enrollment may climb even higher as the state’s unemployment rate has surged to nearly 13 percent. The ballot measure requires the state to expand Medicaid by July 1, 2021.

Tuesday’s vote may also block Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt from advancing his plans to implement a more limited form of the Medicaid expansion. Stitt is the first governor to seek approval for the Trump administration’s new plan to convert a portion of federal Medicaid payments from an open-ended entitlement into a defined lump sum, known as a block grant. Republicans believe the financing arrangement will help them control Medicaid spending, but Democrats argue it is illegal and would likely result in benefit and enrollment cuts.

The ballot measure inserts Medicaid expansion into the state’s constitution, which could bar state leaders from making conservative changes to the program, like adding work requirements or premiums. It’s an open question whether the ballot measure would preempt a block grant.

What’s next: Oklahoma must submit paperwork to expand Medicaid to the federal government within 90 days. Stitt’s administration will likely consider whether to withdraw the block grant plan, which is bound to face legal challenges from Medicaid advocates should it gain the Trump administration’s approval.

“I think there is some space for some legal conversations about what our options are,” Carter Kimble, a top Oklahoma health official, told POLITICO last week.

4 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

There are more than 1 million international students in the US. Here’s where they’re from

(CNN)International students in the United States could be made to leave the country if their universities decide to only offer online courses, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Monday night. Several American universities, including elite institutions such as Harvard and Princeton, have already announced that some proportion of their teaching will take place online, even…

The billionaires and country clubs that received small business loans from the government

Billionaires, country clubs, private jet companies and Kanye West all received millions in government funding under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to the Small Business Administration. The PPP loans and grants were part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law this spring. The loans were designed to help small businesses…

Alonso to return to F1 in 2021

Fernando Alonso has won two F1 world titles and 32 grands prixFernando Alonso is set to return to Formula 1 with Renault next year.The Spanish two-time world champion, who will be 39 later this month, has signed and will be confirmed soon, sources have told BBC Sport.Alonso will return to the outfit with whom he…

Jurgen Klopp: ‘I want a Liverpool team with a Scouse soul’

Curtis Jones scored his first Premier League goal the day after signing a new contractLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his dream is to have a team "full of Scousers" - with all first-team players graduating from the club's academy.Midfielder Curtis Jones - born in Liverpool and a product of the club's youth system - signed…