Medicaid Expansion Could Cover 250,000 More Oklahomans

Update: On Tuesday, July 30, Oklahoma voters approved Question 802, the ballot measure to expand Medicaid in the state. The vote means that Medicaid expansion will take effect in July 2021 and that an estimated 250,000 additional Oklahomans will soon be eligible for coverage through Medicaid. Oklahoma is the 37th state to have expanded Medicaid eligibility since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.

On June 30th, Oklahoma voters will have the opportunity to vote on Question 802, a ballot measure to expand Medicaid in the state. If passed, Medicaid expansion would take effect in July 2021 and could cover more than 250,000 additional residents. 36 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid eligibility since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.

Nearly 550,000 Oklahoma residents were uninsured in 2018, representing the second-highest rate of uninsured (14.2%) in the country. The impact of COVID-19 has increased the number of uninsured Americans across the country. A recent study estimated that 27 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored insurance as a result of the pandemic. Oklahomans have experienced the severe impact of COVID-19, having the highest increase in unemployment claims in the country between June 4-11, as well as a 2,507% increase in unemployment claims from June 2019 to June 2020. Many of those Oklahomans have lost their health insurance coverage as well, and without Medicaid expansion, eligibility is limited.

Medicaid expansion would mean more Oklahomans would experience access to high-quality, affordable health care services. Medicaid helps people get the care they need to stay healthy and productive. Amid COVID-19, more residents would have access to medical care if they get sick and avoid financial bankruptcy if medical emergencies occur during the economic downturn.

Medicaid expansion would also improve access to care for residents living in rural areas of Oklahoma. More than 1.3 million Oklahomans live in rural regions, with many facing barriers to access quality health care services – including health care provider shortages, closures of rural hospitals, and long distances to health care sites. Medicaid beneficiaries in rural areas experience less medical debt and are more likely to report satisfaction with their care than the uninsured.

Over 820,000 Oklahomans are currently covered by Medicaid and CHIP. More than half of those covered are children, who count on the program for access to vital health services. Research has shown that Medicaid leads to better long-term health and educational outcomes, as well as financial security for families.

Nearly 15% of Oklahomans enrolled in Medicaid are people with disabilities. Medicaid covers health care services that are critical to the health of people with disabilities, including nursing home care, at-home help, and medical equipment like wheelchairs.

Medicaid also plays an important role in the lives of veterans and seniors in Oklahoma. American veterans and their families depend on Medicaid to receive quality care, like routine checkups and mental health services. Seniors benefit from long-term care services covered by Medicaid and out-of-pocket costs not included in Medicare coverage.

The Modern Medicaid Alliance found broad support for Medicaid among Oklahomans, with voters clearly agreeing that Medicaid is a priority. Key findings include:

  • 83% of Oklahomans say it’s important to have a strong, sustainable Medicaid program in the U.S.
  • 67% have a favorable view of Medicaid
  • 68% oppose cutting funding for Medicaid

As voters in Oklahoma and other states address Medicaid expansion this election season, the Modern Medicaid Alliance is committed to raising awareness about the tremendous benefits of Medicaid. As a safety net that is there when you need it most, the modern Medicaid program continues to provide high-quality care and health services to more than 1 in 5 Americans.