For Immediate Release: 10/21/2018
Jennie Scott for HD41
Life and Death
I have spent many hundreds of hours talking to constituents about their lives. One complaint has come up again and again: we all wish we had better healthcare. From veterans receiving sub-par care from the VA, to senior citizens choosing between food and life saving medicine to mothers worrying about their children’s well being, it’s clear that Oklahomans are not getting the healthcare they deserve.
This fact became even more apparent on Thursday, October 11, when it was announced the Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center closed its doors.Forty more hospitals around the state are at risk of closing. 16.5% of Oklahomans are uninsured. These are working Oklahomans who fall through the cracks of too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough money to pay for private insurance. These Oklahomans cannot afford preventative care and only go to the emergency room when absolutely necessary. This drives up costs, as this care is often not reimbursed. Rural hospitals take the brunt of this burden. Now, in Pauls Valley, residents must drive an additional 20 miles to receive care, which will prove fatal in some emergencies.
The lack of insurance has devastating effects for the youngest Oklahomans as well. The infant mortality rate is 7.4 per 1,000 in Oklahoma, as opposed to the national average of 5.8 (source: CDC). Women without access to care are less likely to give birth to healthy children. Not accepting the Medicaid expansion is quite literally a life and death issue.
The good news: it’s not too late! If we accept the Medicaid expansion, the federal government will use tax money (money that we are already paying) to cover $900 million of the cost. Te state would be responsible for $100 million. While that sounds like a large price tag, consider how many jobs will be saved if hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and clinics around the state thrive. The jobs created will more than pay for the state’s portion through income taxes. More importantly, lives across Oklahoma will be saved. Let’s get health insurance premiums down and invest in our facilities across the state!