Oklahoma is one of 14 states that has not expanded the government health insurance program to include more low-income adults.
A new report about the effect of Medicaid expansion shows 476 Oklahomans nearing retirement age died prematurely between 2014 and 2017.
Researchers compared mortality rates among Medicaid eligible 55- to 64-year-olds in expansion states to mortality rates among similar older adults in non-expansion states, like Oklahoma. They found that more older adults die in states that haven’t expanded.
Danielle Wells, a spokesperson for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says nationally, thousands of people have died prematurely.
"State decisions not to expand have cost the lives of 15,600 people," says Wells.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, proponents of a Medicaid ballot initiative turned in a record number of signatures last month. If the question survives any legal challenges, it will be up to Governor Kevin Stitt to place State Question 802 on the ballot in 2020.