On the first weekly meeting of the McCortney-McIntire Interim Study on Healthcare in Oklahoma, the two co-chairs set up a presentation from the Oklahoma Dept. of Health where Oklahomans were told just how terrible their state is, when it comes to healthcare access & insurance.
Buffy Heater led a team from the State Dept. of Health to the capitol to put on a slide show of Oklahoma's miserable failures to get the citizens signed up with companies and agencies who'll guarantee them unlimited medical services access for a monthly fee or a govt. entitlement.
Heater said that 14% of Oklahomans have no health contract with an insurance company or govt. entitlement program.
Senator Kim David waited until after the very detailed presentation to ask a few questions about some ambiguous statements. In the slideshow by Heater, a map of Oklahoma's counties were color-coded to show which areas have the worst gaps. When Cherokee & Bryant County showed to be the worst, Sen. David asked; "Those counties have very large tribal memberships and some very good tribal healthcare centers & hospitals, along with the federal govt's Indian Healthcare programs."
Then she asked; "Is the Oklahoma Dept. of Health Claiming that those tribal members are essentially without healthcare, or 'uninsured', for purposes of your presentation?"
Heater looked stunned & unprepared to answer. She turned to her statistics director and asked him. He seemed equally clueless. Heater then made a commitment to get that data and respond to the study group at a later time. That was more than two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, I was watching the webcast from my office and decided to look up the census statistics that The east coast thinktank "Health Rankings" compiled. They do indeed ignore Indian Health, but they do include medicaid & medicare, in their data to determine who has meaningful guaranteed access to a smorgasbord of unlimited health services
Then I checked with the prominent Henry J Kaisor Family Foundation, which focuses on healthcare access issues. They also ignore Indian Health Services as a meaningful health program of coverage.
That's when I decided to reach out to the OCPA and other Oklahoma-based public policy groups. Today, The OCPA published a followup based on the research I provided them. They followed up with Senator David's office and confirmed that neither the Dept. of Health nor The McCortney-McIntire study group have responded to her request for clarification.
So we need to decide if our Dept. of Health is just inept and naive, or worse? Did they get caught parroting a liberal east coast narrative of how terrible the conservative heartland states are? If even 8% of Oklahoma has healthcare access on demand from the several tribal programs, then perhaps Oklahoma cannot be regarded as '49th" in coverage. In fact, Oklahoma might actually be somewhere in the mid 30s, in the stats for choosing a smorgasbord health access subscription.
Senator David may have derailed the campaign to bring in an expensive and wasteful medicaid expansion program and significantly raise taxes once again on Oklahoma's working people.
Oklahoma values liberty and independence. We celebrate frugal govt. & even more frugal family spending. Medical Services is a booming industry nationwide and their lobbyists confirm that govt. spending is crucial to the continued growth and cost of basic health services.
McIntire seems to be pushing higher taxes and socialized medicine. Medicaid expansion will be nearly impossible to dismantle, once the state govt. signs us all up for the program. But when it comes, so will govt. intrusion into many lifestyle choices and access to alternative medicine. Lawmakers will be emboldened with righteous edicts, declaring that they get to make our lifestyle choices, because they believe that they are paying our bills.
OCPA published an excellent follow up to the issue Senator David uncovered more than 2 weeks ago. You can read that report at OCPAthink.org.