“Inflating Medicaid rolls won't solve health issues” (Our Views, Feb. 21) highlights the shortage of doctors in Oklahoma. The Oklahoman fears that an expanded Medicaid program guaranteeing health care for 180,000 citizens will make the situation worse and that the state might copy a California proposal which, if implemented, would allow medical professionals such as physician assistants and nurses to provide direct health care services.
This happens now, thousands of times daily, in Oklahoma. For uninsured Oklahomans, some health care is better than no health care. To address the doctor shortage, legislators could fund the expansion of medical schools using growth money and/or the Rainy Day Fund. But of course they won't. Our solons have other priorities, such as blocking cities from imposing higher smoking standards. Many Oklahomans die of secondhand smoke annually, but the tobacco lobby dominates the Legislature just as it tried (and failed) to do in 2003, when I authored and the Legislature passed a dollar-per-pack increase to fund many health services, including the new world class Stephenson Cancer Center.
The Medicaid expansion would be 95 percent funded by Congress, but when Gov. Mary Fallin rejected that $3.6 billion program to provide health services for our citizens, she also rejected untold millions for our hospitals and doctors to cover just part of the cost of uncompensated care that they must provide to our impoverished residents. This was the worst medical decision in the history of Oklahoma.
Cal Hobson, Lexington
Hobson, a Democrat from Lexington, spent 28 years in the Legislature and was Senate president pro tem from 2003 to 2005.