We did it!

Oklahoma voters deliver mandate for Medicaid expansion with more than 313,000 signatures

Posted on: 10/25/19

Richard Gillespie, president, Jefferson County Hospital, Waurika, spoke at the SQ 802 press conference about the plight of rural hospitals.
Patti Davis (foreground), OHA president, led the box brigade carrying in more than 313,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.
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 health care to our neighbors, keep our rural hospitals open, and boost our economy.”

Numerous individuals from OHA member hospitals across the state attended the historic event and Richard Gillespie, president, Jefferson County Hospital, Waurika, spoke during the press conference. “It’s a sad reality, but since 2016, eight rural hospitals have declared bankruptcy and six have closed,” said Gillespie. “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.”

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 health care 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 health care.

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.”

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 health care.”

“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 health care. We need to win it to bring our tax dollars home to Oklahoma from Washington.”