Medicaid Expansion in Oklahoma: Year One

Medicaid Expansion in Oklahoma: Year One: When Oklahoma voters passed Medicaid expansion in June 2020, they understood the benefits that expansion would bring to the state. They knew that providing health coverage to low-income, working-age adults would improve health outcomes, keep rural hospitals open, and empower parents. 

Summary

Prior to voter passage of Medicaid expansion, Oklahoma had a significant “coverage gap,” leaving hundreds of thousands of low-income adults with no feasible pathway to health insurance. When Medicaid expansion became an option for states in 2014, adults in states that adopted expansion were able to access Medicaid coverage due to the new income eligibility limit became 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Oklahoma, however, delayed adoption of the expansion for years.

After years of legislative inaction, Oklahoma voters approved a proposal to put Medicaid expansion into the state’s constitution via State Question 802.

This report from the Oklahoma Policy Institute looks at how Medicaid expansion has increased health care access, improved health outcomes, and strengthened our economy. Since going into effect on July 1, 2021, Medicaid expansion has brought comprehensive and affordable health insurance to more than 280,000 Oklahomans, decreased Oklahoma’s uninsured rate from 14.4 percent to about 9.6 percent, and helped keep the lights on for hospitals statewide. Expansion has benefited Oklahomans of every race, gender, and age in every county in the state. 

Yet despite the considerable progress that’s been made, hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans still remain uninsured and without a pathway to coverage. Looking ahead, Oklahoma has the opportunity to build on the momentum of Medicaid expansion. By further expanding coverage and strengthening existing coverage, lawmakers can help ensure every Oklahoman can see a doctor and fill a prescription.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma Morris joined Oklahoma Policy Institute as the Health Care and Revenue Policy Analyst in April 2021, and she previously worked as an OK Policy intern and as the Health Care Policy Fellow. She has worked as a case manager with justice-involved individuals and volunteered as a mentor for youth in her community. Emma holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Women’s and Gender Studies and Public and Nonprofit Administration from the University of Oklahoma, and is currently working on a Master of Public Administration degree from OU-Tulsa. She is an alumna of OK Policy’s 2019 Summer Policy Institute and The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship.

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