Last fall, the voters of Oklahoma sent a strong message by participating in the largest signature ballot initiative ever to get State Question 802 on the ballot. This legislation, if passed, will allow Oklahoma to receive back billions of our federal tax dollars to support the health care needs of many of our parents, seniors and hardworking citizens making less than $17,000 a year. The use of these funds will have a significant impact in Oklahoma in terms of economic growth from job creation, improved access to health care and much needed support for rural hospitals just like ours.
There are 36 states which have adopted full Medicaid expansion. By choosing not to participate 100%, Oklahoma has allowed billions of our tax dollars to go to other states. The states who have not accepted full Medicaid expansion, including Oklahoma, have experienced a higher rate of rural hospital closure than those participating fully. In Oklahoma, we have seen several closures, including most recently, Pauls Valley General Hospital. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenging economic environment, even more rural hospitals are struggling to remain open.
For Pontotoc County, passage of SQ802 is expected to result in job creation and an economic impact of close to $32 million annually. The health care this provides for our most vulnerable citizens will also provide much needed reimbursement for services provided by our local hospital. Annually, Mercy Hospital Ada delivers over $27.8 Million Dollars in care via charity and bad debt, representing approximately 31% of our total operating expenses. This rate of uncompensated care is unsustainable, especially during times when our rates of compensation from Medicare and other insurers continue to shrink.
I encourage you to learn more about SQ802 and how it will support our state and local economy by increasing health care to our most vulnerable, as well as helping our local hospital continue to provide the care our residents deserve.
Terence Farrell, President, Mercy Hospital Ada