Medicaid must be expanded

Medicaid must be expanded.

This isn’t an issue about politics, it’s an issue about the health and safety of our fellow neighbor, our local healthcare providers, our EMS services, etc.

Across the United States rural Hospitals, clinics and EMS services are closing at an alarming rate, but for roughly 80 percent of those organizations, they all had one thing in common besides their rural nature: They were located in states that had not expanded Medicaid coverage for its residents. This is according to nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Why is this particularly harmful to rural healthcare services?

Because in rural communities the amount of people living in poverty is of a higher percentage than that of suburban or urban areas, and the amount of jobs that offer health benefits is lower in rural communities as well.

So, in essence, rural Oklahoma areas are stuck in a revolving door of residents who do not qualify for Medicaid but also cannot afford to purchase health coverage or healthcare services.

This leaves us with two things occurring.

The first thing is that the patient does not seek medical treatment until a chronic or preventable condition has become acute and or deadly. This now turns into a very costly hospital visit and ambulance ride that the patient cannot afford to pay.

The second thing that has happened is that because the patient cannot afford to pay, this goes into a category of uncompensated care. Uncompensated care is financially damaging to healthcare providers. The organizations pay their providers to treat a patient and pays for the cost of medication, equipment, utilities, etc… but never get reimbursed for it. It is this uncompensated care that forces closers of rural hospitals, clinics, and EMS services, and it is what we are fellow Okies must correct and change.

The answer?

Accept the federal Medicaid expansion. Protect our healthcare services and protect one another.


Jeff Fishel is executive director of LeFlore County Emergency Medical Services.


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