On November 19, the Governor of Oklahoma announced her intention NOT to participate in either a state electronic health insurance exchange or to accept Federal Medicaid dollars to provide coverage to 150,000 Oklahomans out of the 600,000 that currently have no health insurance.
You can read about the decision in brief, with cogent analysis, here.
Below is the text of a letter I faxed to her office:
Dear Governor Fallin:
I am extremely disappointed with the decision declining Oklahoma’s participation in the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare.
As a practicing physician and medical educator, I see the impact of ‘uninsurance’ on low income, chronically ill Oklahomans every day. Options for these folks are few. Since they aren’t moneyed, and struggle to get by in every sense, they aren’t well-represented at the ballot box.
The decision not to participate in a broadening of the safety net is morally, financially, and medically wrong.
The majority of those earning between 133-400% of the Federal poverty level are working—without any safety net. They constitute ‘the working poor.’ They are not, as some suggest, “freeloaders.” Quite simply, those with Medicaid attain better health. The data proves it.
Your alternative ‘plan’ of doing more of the same strikes me as both mean-spirited and inhumane to your fellow Oklahomans—whether they voted for you or not.
Please reconsider this misguided decision. We taxpayers WANT our federal dollars coming back to help Oklahomans—not going only to more benevolent states.
Thank you for your consideration.
John Henning Schumann
John H. Schumann, MD is a general internist and medical educator at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa, OK . He is also author of the blog, GlassHospital (@GlassHospital), where this post originally appeared.