In the wake of the presidential election, health care reform won't be dismantled. This presents Oklahoma and other states with a historic opportunity. Under the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, each state can choose to opt out of its provision for Medicaid expansion. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Medicaid expansion would provide health insurance coverage to more than 100,000 low-income Oklahomans who would otherwise remain uninsured. Gov. Mary Fallin hasn't yet announced whether she'll support or oppose this expansion of Medicaid.
As a medical social worker, I encounter the effects of Oklahomans having no access to health insurance. For uninsured individuals, having medical needs but no resources takes a toll on emotional and physical well-being. The uninsured have a tendency to delay seeking medical attention until symptoms are severe. This often results in costly emergency room visits, generating bills that go unpaid.
The financial stress on our health care delivery system is enormous. To pass on the opportunity for such a significant leap forward would be unnecessarily cruel and shortsighted. I urge state leaders to clear the way for greater social justice and enhanced public health through Medicaid expansion.
Kevin Acers, Oklahoma City