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Oklahoma is the latest Republican state to vote on Medicaid expansion

June 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Oklahoma voters will decide Tuesday whether to force their governor and lawmakers to expand Medicaid to low-income residents in the deep-red state.

(CNN)Oklahoma voters will decide Tuesday whether to force their governor and lawmakers to expand Medicaid to low-income residents in the deep-red state.

The ballot initiative, which began long before the coronavirus pandemic but has taken on increased urgency amid the outbreak, seeks to enshrine Medicaid expansion in the state constitution.

Expansion would also bring a little more than $1 billion additional federal funds annually to Oklahoma, said Amber England, the initiative's campaign manager.

If successful, Oklahoma would be the fifth state run by Republicans to approve expansion, a provision of the Affordable Care Act, at the ballot box.

Medicaid expansion has yet to start in Nebraska, but tens of thousands of people have enrolled in each of the other states.

Missouri residents will vote on adding Medicaid expansion to the state constitution on August 4.

Some 14 states, all with either Republican governors or GOP-led legislatures, have yet to adopt Medicaid expansion, which began in 2014 and covers low-income adults with incomes up to roughly $17,000 a year.

"Everybody in the state -- whether you live in a rural community or you live in an urban area -- you know of someone who doesn't have health care and won't go to the doctor," England said, adding that expansion would help cash-strapped rural hospitals, which frequently must treat uninsured patients.

In an unusual twist, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt applied to expand Medicaid in April but included a work requirement and premiums of up to $15 a month for families.

Stitt also backed the Trump administration's effort to curtail Medicaid by allowing states to ask for a set amount of federal financing for part of their programs in exchange for more local control.

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