Oklahoma Legislature Considering Expansion Of Medicaid Ahead Of Rally

Tuesday, April 23rd 2019, 8:37 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The Oklahoma legislature is considering an expansion of Medicaid, or at least some expansion of federal coverage in Oklahoma, as an initiative petition starts that could put the question before voters.

As the political tide is changing, lawmakers see small hospitals and ambulance services closing and are hearing from constituents about the cost of having so many people without coverage.

"We want our federal tax dollars to return to Oklahoma, to invest in our infrastructure, to decrease our uninsured, and to increase access for all patients in Oklahoma," said Dr. Larry Bookman, the President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute is organizing a rally at the Capitol Wednesday as lawmakers approach a decision.

"I'm really excited and gratified to see that conversation happening here," said Carly Putnam, the Policy Director for the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

"Legislators know that this is the time for them to act, and they know what happened with medical marijuana a few years ago. So there's some incentive for them to act," said Putnam 

The Policy Institute estimates about 110,000 people would sign up for health care coverage if the Medicaid expansion was approved. Right now, Oklahoma has the second highest rate of uninsured people of all the states.

"We know that our child uninsured rate would drop. Kids who are eligible for coverage, but with parents who don't know that - the parents would sign up and get their kids signed up at the same time" said Putnam.