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Oklahoma Narrowly Passes Medicaid Expansion Amid Pandemic

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Oklahoma voters narrowly approved a wide-ranging Medicaid expansion, extending the service to thousands of low-income adults amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ballot measure passed with 50.5% support, bucking Oklahoma Republicans that had sought to reign in the expensive program, Politico reported.

Despite Oklahoma’s conservative lean, supporters of the expansion acknowledged that the coronavirus likely helped the amendment pass. Confirmed cases in the state have doubled in the past month, including nearly 600 new cases yesterday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.

The amendment is a lifeline for many in Oklahoma, where unemployment has hit 13% and a large percentage of the population remains uninsured. Approximately 200,000 people will be eligible under the Medicaid expansion, The Hill reported.

The amendment states that Oklahoma must formally begin the process of expanding Medicaid within 90 days, and that the expansion must be completed by July 1, 2021.

While the amendment likely bars Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt from implementing work requirements or other limitations, questions about the legality of instituting a capped lump sum, or a block grant, remain, Politico notes.

Though Republicans and the Trump administration are likely to push for one, Democrats will likely object, increasing the chances that the specifics of the expansion are at least partially decided by the courts.

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