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Health care access a priority for Oklahomans

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Chuck Spicer
Chuck Spicer

To improve Oklahomans' quality of life, we know that more of our citizens need access to health insurance. At OU Medicine, we are involved in conversations about providing health insurance to more people.

Discussions with legislative leaders have been promising this spring, and we know they will continue throughout the summer. As Oklahoma’s comprehensive academic health care system, we are grateful to play a role in creating a solution that will help Oklahomans become healthier and decrease the physical, mental and financial burdens of poor health.

Part of those conversations have centered on crafting a solution unique to Oklahoma — accepting federal health care dollars and partnering with private insurance to cover more people. We know that expanding the number of people with health insurance will help us attract more physicians and providers and thereby increase access to care. Such an “Oklahoma Plan” would essentially expand Insure Oklahoma, a program operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Insure Oklahoma helps small-business employees obtain health care coverage for themselves and their families, as well as individuals who are self-employed or temporarily unemployed. Insure Oklahoma is an innovative program that has bridged a gap in coverage for working adults. Expanding its access to more Oklahomans could be a positive step toward improving the state’s poor health rankings.

Individuals and families who have reliable health care coverage are more likely to avail themselves of preventive services, knowing that the cost will not be more than they can afford. Oklahomans having peace of mind about access and affordability is a worthy goal.

Insuring more Oklahomans also benefits the state financially. Preventive services simply cost less than specialty services. Although OU Medicine offers a multitude of adult and pediatric medical specialties, we also want every Oklahoman to have access to quality basic health care. That is among our most important ethics as a comprehensive academic health system. Additionally, as an academic health system, we do our part to help increase access to health care by training future physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and more. In fact, approximately 60 percent of the state’s physicians were educated at the OU College of Medicine. We are training a workforce for the state, thereby creating a uniquely Oklahoma solution for accessing federal funding.

There is no doubt that Oklahoma can improve the health and quality of life for our residents in all areas of the state. Access to affordable, quality health insurance is an important step toward that goal, and OU Medicine is committed to being a part of the discussions until we reach a solution.

Spicer is president and CEO of OU Medicine.

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