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State Medical Association and Health Groups Come out Against Funding Change in SQ814

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The Oklahoma State Medical Association and other health groups held a virtual news conference on Thursday asking voters to reject State Question 814.

The measure would take the 75% of annual tobacco settlement money currently going to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust and put it toward Medicaid expansion costs. Going forward, TSET would get 25% of the annual settlement payment each year for its tobacco cessation, research grants and health programs.

TSET claims over the 20 years it has existed, its programs have helped the state avoid more than $1 billion in health care costs.

"We're extending lives, we're saving lives, but we're also saving money that we would normally be spending through Medicaid to put these people in the hospital for long-term care," said OSMA President Dr. George Monks.

Oklahoma lawmakers put SQ814 on the ballot. It would provide roughly $56 million a year for Medicaid expansion, only about one-third the state's estimated costs. It's supported by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Stitt vetoed legislation that would have provided around $150 million for Medicaid expansion.

"The lion's share of the money necessary to do that. They vetoed that bill and did not veto this one. That's something that has never made sense from our perspective," said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network State Government Relations Director Matt Glanville.

Oklahoma voters approved Medicaid expansion by passing State Question 802 in June. The measure did not include a funding mechanism.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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