Russ Got It Wrong On SQ802


Submitted By

Carla Tollett - Cordell Memorial Hospital


Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell) has been misled, to say the least, when it comes to State Question 802, which comes up on the statewide ballot Tuesday, June 30. I’m here to set the record straight, so Oklahomans can evaluate the facts for themselves.

In his op-ed in the Cordell Beacon June 17, Russ was right about a handful of items. SQ 802 is a state constitutional amendment, rather than something that is being changed by statute, or a law that is voted on solely by the legislature. As a citizen, this distinction is important to me, because it means this change was brought on by “we the people” --- after seeing the State Legislature fail to pass Medicaid Expansion for more than a decade, 300,000 of my fellow Oklahomans signed a petition to get SQ 802 on the ballot, saying enough is enough.

Russ suggested SQ 802 is costly; in reality, we can’t afford not to pass it. It’s projected to bring $1 billion annually back to our state, and there are proposals to use tobacco settlement funds and other sources to cover any outright costs of implementation. It will create a return of almost $9 for every dollar spent – sounds like a good investment to me. And this doesn’t even include projected new jobs SQ 802 would bring.

Russ said a “no” vote will functionally maintain the status quo, but let’s think about what that means. A “no” vote keeps 200,000 of our fellow Oklahomans without any form of health insurance coverage, leaving them without much needed medical care. This also means our hospitals – many of which are already struggling financially – must continue to provide $500 million+ in uncompensated care annually. It means that several rural hospitals will continue to be in jeopardy of closing or filing bankruptcy. We can’t afford to maintain the status quo in Washita County.

Nothing in SQ 802 keeps the state from asking for a waiver to allow work requirements or even low copayments for services from participants. So, if Russ supported the Governor’s plan to do those things, he should support this plan too, because it can do the same thing.

SQ 802 isn’t about Russ, it’s about us as Oklahomans. Remember SQ 802 means almost $750,000 in economic impact for our county, according to the National Center for Rural Health Works. That impact includes the impact to Cordell Memorial Hospital, which is a Critical Access Hospital employing 36 of our friends and neighbors.

Vote YES to support health care access in rural Oklahoma. Vote YES on SQ 802 June 30.