Since Oklahoma’s oil bust of the 1980s, our state and local governments have invested billions of our hard-earned tax dollars in diversifying Oklahoma’s economy. These investments have paid off. For example, right here in Northeastern Oklahoma, Google placed a data center in Pryor. On June 30, we have a sure-fire way to invest in the health care of hard-working Oklahomans, boost our economy, create jobs and keep rural hospitals open.
State Question 802 pumps more than $1 billion into our economy every single year by providing health coverage to 200,000 Oklahomans who today cannot afford it. Even better, we do this without increasing taxes one penny. The billion-dollar boost happens by bringing home Oklahomans’ tax dollars from Washington D.C. now scattered across 36 other states that have already expanded Medicaid.
Providing health care to 200,000 Oklahomans who live in cities large and small is a good thing in and of itself. But how does it help local economies? Think about it: the passage of SQ 802 will pump a billion dollars a year into hospitals, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies all across the state.
Under SQ 802, single adults making less than $17,236 each year will qualify for health care coverage; for families of four, those earning less than $35,535 will get coverage. In all, more than 200,000 Oklahomans – one out of every 20 Oklahomans – will get new health care coverage.
More people will be able to get the care they need instead of relying on an expensive emergency room visit when an otherwise treatable condition becomes life-threatening. Hospitals will be able to hire more health care workers. This will allow struggling rural hospitals to invest in their infrastructure to be able to meet the needs of their communities. And, it will provide a continuing boost to the state’s economy to the tune of 27,000 new jobs over the next five years.
SQ 802 will be protected from being watered down and tinkered with by special interest groups and only the people will have the power to change it. Voters will have the power to decide health care for our state. There is no group more deserving of that trust than the voters of Oklahoma.
Better health care, healthier families, a more robust economy, and thousands of new jobs are all on the line when we go vote on June 30. Please take a serious look at SQ 802.
Jimmy Leopard is the CEO of Wagoner Community Hospital.