Oklahoma’s health care problems
Oklahoma, God love her, is an unhealthy state. We have high rates of obesity, high rates of diabetes, and high rates of drug abuse. We have problems, and we need to find a way to help ourselves.
With the debate about Obamacare raging in Washington, it is very possible, many people in our state will lose health care sometime in the next year. Whether it is a reduction in Medicaid or the end of Marketplace subsidies, our state is likely to suffer a drastic change in the number of people able to afford health care in the near future.
Since Oklahoma is a relatively poor state, with a large number of low-income earners, and since many of those people fit into the above unhealthy categories, this could truly be a moment of great struggle for our health care system.
In order to avoid such chaos, we need, as a community to begin considering and, ideally, implementing state-wide health care laws that can come into effect the moment the federal laws change.
Such laws need to envision as many possible scenarios as they can. Whether Medicaid is cut slightly or drastically, whether Medicare is somehow affected, whether the Marketplace subsidies are cut or the Marketplace folds outright, Oklahoma needs to have a plan to help its citizens caught up in these sudden changes.
While we’re at it, we might consider other important healthcare initiatives. There are far too many medical malpractice problems in this state. Whether it is because of too much doctor error or laws too lax which allow for too many suits, something needs to be done to make sure the system is not losing so much money to settlements.
We might also consider instituting better health education in our schools to help keep the next generation healthier than the current one. By teaching better eating and exercise habits, and providing more opportunity to practice both in school, we might lower our obesity and diabetes rate and save our state more money, which could go towards funding any healthcare initiatives.
Finally, we need to ensure that the whole state has access to the highest quality care. We have a large rural population here, and it does not always enjoy all the benefits in education and health that can be found in Oklahoma City. The more healthy food resources and high-quality medical facilities that can be put in such areas, the better.
While the change in healthcare laws is looked on with foreboding by many, this could, in fact, be an opportunity for our state if we begin to prepare for it now. Oklahoma could jump to the forefront of state health care systems and be a guiding example to others in the region and throughout the country.
We have that ability. We have great, clever people in this state who could fix our problems before they even show up. We just need to get started now.