STATEMENT: Oklahoma’s Medicaid Expansion Will Protect Its Most Vulnerable Citizens

June 30, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY Oklahomans' approval of Question 802 will improve health outcomes and reduce cancer disparities for 200,000 citizens who will gain access to health insurance coverage through the state’s Medicaid program.

On Tuesday, a majority of voters responded “yes” to Question 802, which asked if Medicaid should be fully expanded to low-income adults earning less than $17,609 a year for an individual and $36,156 for a family of four, as permitted under the federal health law.

“This is an incredible development for public health in Oklahoma, which currently has the second-highest uninsured rate in the nation,” said ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse. “We know the health insurance coverage provided by Medicaid helps to improve outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer by offering access to prevention services and timely cancer screenings. Early detection of cancer increases a patient’s chance for survival. With this vote, Oklahomans have elected to save lives.”

Tuesday’s vote also comes as more than two-thirds of Oklahoma’s rural hospitals operate at a loss, and at least half the state’s hospitals are at-risk of closure.

“Medicaid expansion will help keep our rural hospitals open, providing not only jobs for Oklahomans but the cancer screenings, treatment and follow-up care needed to survive the disease that will kill over 8,400 in our state this year,” said ACS CAN Government Relations Director Matt Glanville. “I’m grateful for our ACS CAN volunteers’ unending passion to reduce the cancer burden and their hard work to advocate for Medicaid expansion. Your voices were heard.”

In 2020, over 20,500 Oklahomans will be diagnosed with cancer, which is the second-leading cause of death in the state. Individuals enrolled in Medicaid prior to their cancer diagnosis have better survival rates than those who enroll after their diagnosis. Medicaid expansion led to an increase in both total and earlier-stage cancer diagnoses in expansion states.

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