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Governor sets June election for Medicaid expansion question

April 18, 2020 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday set a June 30 election date for voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid health coverage to more Oklahomans.

Stitt issued a proclamation to place State Question 802 on the June 30 primary election ballot. Supporters of expanding Medicaid gathered a record number of signatures to qualify the question for the ballot.

A Medicaid expansion would extend health insurance to low-income adults who earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level, or $16,970 for an individual and $34,846 for a family of four. The Health Care Authority estimates about 220,000 Oklahomans would immediately qualify, at a total cost of about $1.24 billion annually. The federal government would cover about $1.1 billion in annual costs with the state responsible for about $150 million each year.

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Stitt opposes a full expansion and instead wants to take advantage of a block-grant-style Medicaid expansion offered by the Trump administration that would give states more control over Medicaid in exchange for a limit on how much the feds kick in. One requirement that Stitt and other conservative policymakers want to impose would make recipients pay premiums and either work or volunteer in the community.

The setting of the question on the ballot indicates that Oklahoma will hold its primary elections as normally scheduled at a time when some other states are pushing them back because of the coronavirus outbreak. Just this week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards delayed the state’s primaries, including its presidential primaries, for a second time to July 11.

In the past month, more than a dozen states have postponed their primaries to give them time to adjust and plan. Louisiana’s primary initially was postponed until June 20, before being pushed back an extra three weeks, making it one of the last states on the current primary calendar.