The City Sentinel Online, Staff Report

A statement from the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, expressed support for State Question 802, the constitutional ballot initiative aiming to expand Medicaid in the Sooner State.

The June 8 statement, issued on behalf of Oklahoma’s two Catholic bishops, read as follows:

On June 30, Oklahomans will cast an important vote on State Question 802 about whether to expand Medicaid. Our state’s SoonerCare program currently provides critical health coverage to Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and children. This program plays a vital role in sustaining the health care delivery system in our state, particularly in rural areas where access to quality health care is increasingly unavailable.

However, based on the clients we help through the work of Catholic Charities and with patients seeking care at our Catholic hospitals, it is apparent that access to affordable health care coverage — which is so necessary for human flourishing — is becoming less available over time.

This is why we support expanding such an essential program and lend our voices in favor of SQ 802. We seek better health outcomes for our fellow Oklahomans and that requires all of us to step into the breach and make those outcomes possible.

While we agree that amending the state constitution is a method that should be reserved for special circumstances, our present health care crisis demands action that cannot wait for a political solution. Additionally, we offer our support conditioned on a continuation of federal pro-life protections in Medicaid through the Hyde Amendment. We urge our fellow Catholics and others of goodwill to join us in support of this important effort to improve the lives of Oklahoma families.

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