Oklahoma Voters Deliver Mandate for Medicaid Expansion Submitting the Most Signatures for a State Question in Oklahoma’s History

Release Date:
Thursday, October 24, 2019
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More than 313,000 signatures were submitted Thursday by Yes on 802 campaign volunteers, setting up a vote on the Medicaid initiative in 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – After working tirelessly for three months, volunteers from every corner of the state converged Thursday at the Secretary of State’s office to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot, delivering the largest signature mandate for any state question in Oklahoma history.

“From Guymon to Broken Bow and from Altus to Miami, this campaign has been everywhere, and we have been overwhelmed by the tremendous outpouring of support for Medicaid expansion all across this state,” said campaign manager Amber England. “ It’s why we stand today with a mandate from a record-breaking number of Oklahoma voters who want the chance to bring more than a billion of our tax dollars home from Washington every single year to deliver healthcare to our neighbors, keep our rural hospitals open, and boost our economy.”

The record-breaking number of signatures means that voters — not politicians — now control the fate of Medicaid expansion. Yes on 802 volunteers formed a line winding throughout the Secretary of State building Thursday, delivering 313,000 signatures — one box at a time.

If approved by voters, the ballot measure would bring more than a billion of Oklahomans’ tax dollars back from Washington every year to keep rural hospitals open and provide a healthcare solution for thousands of single parents, rural residents, Oklahomans nearing retirement, and all hard-working citizens who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford coverage. Nearly 200,000 Oklahomans would receive access to life-saving healthcare.

Voters who participated in the signature turn-in offered words of support on the ballot initiative citing their real-world experiences as members of the faith community, as rural residents, and even as medical professionals. Ashton Gores, a medical student and campaign volunteer said,

“I grew up in a small town— so this issue is personal. I saw firsthand how our rural communities struggle with a lack of access to care.” Gores continued, “I’m excited to go back to rural Oklahoma to practice medicine, but I’m worried about our rural hospitals. It’s time to let the
voters decide and start turning things around.”

“It’s a sad reality, but since 2016 — eight rural hospitals have declared bankruptcy and six have closed,” said Richard Gillespie, president of Jefferson County Hospital in Waurika, Oklahoma, which nearly closed its doors. “ When a hospital closes, it devastates the whole community. We
simply can’t keep turning our backs on rural communities like this. Medicaid expansion is not only the right thing to do — it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.”

Minister and Executive Director at the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, Shannon Fleck said, “This isn’t a partisan issue — this is a human issue. As Oklahomans, we have a moral obligation to stand up for families who are working hard but can’t afford access to healthcare.”

“Make no mistake, winning this election will not be easy,” said Erin Taylor, a mom and disability advocate. “But together, we can win it. We need to win it for families in the gap who need healthcare. We need to win it to bring our tax dollars home to Oklahoma from Washington.”

The Yes On 802 campaign is working to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2020. It is supported by a growing coalition of Oklahoma doctors, nurses, patients, business executives, non-profit organizations, healthcare advocates and hospitals. Voters from across the state participated in the signature collection effort over the next 90 days.