Oklahoma Supreme Court clears path for Medicaid expansion petition

Oklahoma Supreme Court clears path for Medicaid expansion petition

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has paved the way for people in the state to vote on Medicaid expansion, after ruling against a conservative think tank's challenge to the ballot initiative.

In its opinion Tuesday, the court ruled the description for the petition was not misleading, as the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs claimed in its lawsuit, Tulsa World reported.

The ruling allows supporters to continue pushing to secure the 178,000 signatures needed to put the issue on the state ballot in 2020.

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“The gist informs signers of what the proposed amendment is intended to do — ‘expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program to include certain low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 65 whose income does not exceed 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as permitted under the federal Medicaid laws,’” the ruling states.

An attorney for those opposing the ballot initiative argued the gist of the measure was inaccurate because it would expand Medicaid eligibility to those within 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as opposed to the Affordable Care Act, which requires expansion to cover adults at 138 percent or below.

An attorney for supporters of the petition, meanwhile, argued that calculating income for Medicaid eligibility includes a 5-point “income disregard,” which raises the limit to 138 percent.

“Our mantra has been that Oklahoma voters should get the chance to decide what’s best when it comes to our health care,” Amber England, a spokeswoman for Oklahomans Decide Healthcare, which supports the measure, told the publication. “Today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with us.”

Oklahoma is one of more than a dozen states that has not expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare. More than 780,000 people in Oklahoma are enrolled in the government-run health care program for low-income residents.