Regardless of whether State Question 802 (Medicaid Expansion Initiative) passes at the primary polls on June 30, there is one thing that I am very happy about: that the measure is on the ballot for Oklahoma voters. In fact, I added my name to the petition to help get it on the ballot during one of the many signature drives held in Oklahoma City.
I support our lawmakers, but I think there are certain questions that should just be put to the citizens to decide. Medicaid expansion is one of those questions. Besides, this is an issue that has been kicked around the legislative block for at least close to eight years.
As some may remember, former governor Mary Fallin first said no to Medicaid expansion in November 2012. At the time, a journalist for The Oklahoman reported that Ms. Fallin said that "such an expansion would be unaffordable" - costing millions. Also, at issue, she said, is that it would "further Oklahoma's reliance on federal money that may or may not be available in the future given the dire fiscal problems facing the federal government."
That is still a concern with some Republican leaders. Steve Fair, District 4 Oklahoma Republican Party Chair echoed Fallin's objections to Medicaid expansion. He wrote that Oklahoma taxpayers can't afford it - and federal matching funds aren't guaranteed. He also opposes the measure because it would become part of the Oklahoma constitution and mandated whether the money was available or not.
On the flip side, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman said, "Without SQ 802, Oklahomans' federal tax dollars will be going to help residents of other states instead of our own."
WHICH IS IT?
Is this a political question that runs along party lines - Republican vs. Democrat / red vs. blue? Is this a financial question that encompasses "well-off" or "doing okay" vs. "poor"? Is this a social question - urban vs. rural?
One opinion I heard recently is that voting "yes" to SQ 802 Medicaid expansion is also a "yes" vote to help our rural hospitals stay in service to our communities.
I would encourage all registered voters to research both sides of the question and then vote June 30 in the primary election. It's on the ballot. Voice your opinion at the polls and help decide this important health care question for Oklahomans.
So, am I for SQ802 or against it? I was definitely for it being on the ballot. Now that it is, I'm for the registered voters to decide. I will cast my vote June 30.