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Campaign Manager For Medicaid Expansion Ballot Measure: 'We Have To Protect This Victory'

Yes on 802

The campaign manager for the ballot measure to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma said the work is not over even though benefits went into effect last Thursday.

Yes on 802's Amber England said last week advocates must now keep tabs on officials who can affect the program.

"Just because we won Medicaid expansion for almost 200,000 Oklahomans does not mean that we can just rest on our laurels and that this victory is forever. We have to protect this victory. We have to make certain that the legislature and the rule-making bodies actually implement this law with the way the voters intended," England said.

State Question 802 amended Oklahoma's constitution to expand Medicaid to working adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, so lawmakers and other officials can't make wholesale changes to the program. But Gov. Kevin Stitt has pursued proposals like a capped-funding format with work requirements and a managed care model that would outsource program administration to private companies. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last month Stitt lacked authority to enter into $2 billion in managed care contracts without legislative approval.

More than 125,000 Oklahomans had signed up for coverage when expansion took effect.

England said she’s also now wary of backlash against the initiative petition process that made Medicaid expansion happen in Oklahoma.

"We’re seeing this across the country. Many, many legislatures where we’ve seen policies passed that help everyday people — like Medicaid expansion, other issues that are helping working families — are under attack. The ballot measure process is under attack, and we need to protect that. We need to make certain that Oklahomans can decide issues for themselves when the legislature or the governor will fail to do it for them," England said.

Lawmakers passed bills this year to trigger recounts in some situations and require fiscal impact statements if a question might require state funding to take effect. Those laws take effect Nov. 1.

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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