WHAT IS STATE QUESTION 802?
State Question 802 is an initiative petition that will give Oklahoma voters the chance on June 30, 2020, to expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults in Oklahoma beginning no later than July 1, 2021. The ballot initiative is run by the group Yes on SQ 802: Oklahomans Decide Healthcare. Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma would cover approximately 200,000 people.
To date, Oklahoma is one of just 14 states that has not expanded its Medicaid programs to include low-income working adults. Thirty-six states and Washington, DC, have expanded Medicaid. Medicaid expansion was authorized by the Affordable Care Act and became available to states in 2014.
WHERE ARE THINGS NOW?
On Jan. 9, 2020, the Secretary of State certified that all requirements for placing the initiative petition on the ballot have been successfully satisfied. On April 17, Governor Stitt announced that SQ 802 would appear on the June 30 statewide primary election ballot. The last day to register to vote in the June 30 primary election was June 5, and the last day to request an absentee ballot will be June 24.
Note that the absentee voting rules for the June 30 election were modified by the Legislature in May with the passage of SB 210. Voters have a new option for absentee voter verification during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Instead of having your signature notarized or witnessed by two people, you now have the option of attaching a copy of an identification document to your affidavit envelope. Please see the State Election Board website for detailed information.
GOV. STITT AND SOONERCARE 2.0
Meanwhile, Governor Stitt, an avowed opponent of SQ 802, announced an alternative approach to Medicaid expansion earlier this year that was dubbed SoonerCare 2.0. The Governor’s plan called for a state plan amendment to extend coverage to low-income adults effective July 1 of this year, followed by a waiver proposal that, if approved by the federal government, would have subjected the newly- eligible Medicaid population to monthly premiums and community engagement (work reporting) requirements, while enacting a per person expenditure cap.
The Legislature passed SB 1046, which raised the hospital provider fee to cover the state’s share of the expansion population as of July 1. However, Gov. Stitt vetoed the bill on the grounds that current economic circumstances would lead too many people to enroll in Medicaid.
The Governor’s veto means that his SoonerCare 2.0 proposal is effectively off the table, leaving SQ 802 as the sole path to Medicaid expansion.