Supporters of the expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma claim that the program would bring desperately needed federal support for the state’s long strenuous rural hospitals, which suffered a further collapse in elective procedures after the emergence of the coronavirus. Since 2016, six state hospitals have closed and eight others have filed for bankruptcy.
“We simply cannot afford not to extend coverage,” said Oklahoma House minority leader Emily Virgin, a Democrat.
The outcome of the Oklahoma vote will be followed closely in Missouri, where voters will also vote on the expansion of Medicaid in their state on August 4. The vote is strongly opposed by Governor Mike Parson, a republican facing reelection in November. Missouri voting organizers similarly analyzed their messages on the plight of state hospitals, particularly those in rural areas. Ten hospitals have closed in Missouri since 201
4, according to the state hospital association.
“It’s about making sure Missourians have access to healthcare in their communities,” said Jack Cardetti, the group’s spokesman behind the election initiative.
Even the supporters of the expansion arenoting how Oklahoma’s rising coronavirus infection rates affect the vote. The state electoral council advises – but does not require – that electoral workers and voters wear masks. Mail-order voting is also widely allowed, but election law experts have stated that state requirements that they must be authenticated or present a copy of the government-issued identification could depress voter turnout, particularly in low-lying communities. income that would benefit directly from the expansion.
“Unless you’re able to fill the vote at your kitchen table and put it in the mailbox, anything more will be more difficult,” said Joseph Anthony, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University who specializes in elections and voting rights. “All these things are onerous.”
Jan Largent, the president of the League of Women Electors of the State, said that the usual number of votes for June 4th was required for the June 30 vote, when the state’s primary elections also take place.
“People are determined to go out and vote for 802,” he said, referring to the ballot question number.