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Community health centers offer preventive services to Oklahoma's uninsured patients

Oklahoma has 18 community health centers, which provide nearly 50 sites. By year's end, they will be in 30 of the state's 77 counties. A sliding fee scale is available for uninsured patients.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: August 2, 2012

Nearly 50 community health centers are poised to treat the state's estimated 625,000 uninsured residents as well as those who don't regularly go to doctors, supporters of the nonprofit centers said Wednesday.

The centers provide affordable, high-quality health preventive, primary, oral and behavioral care, said Greta Stewart, executive director of the Oklahoma Primary Care Association.

The centers accept patients on Medicaid and Medicare, as well as those who have insurance.

They also offer a deeply discounted pharmacy and a sliding fee scale for uninsured patients, who make up about 17 percent of the state's population, Stewart said during a news conference to tout the availability of the community health centers.

“Our health centers are open to everyone regardless of age or insurance status,” Stewart said.

“It is a known fact that it is cheaper to prevent than to treat, so access to basic health care for all Oklahomans makes a lot more sense.”

Expansion plans

Oklahoma has 18 community health centers fielding nearly 50 sites across the state, and by the end of this year community centers will be available in 30 of the state's 77 counties.

They serve more than 130,000 patients annually; 40 percent are uninsured and 30 percent are on Medicaid, said Steve Ronck, deputy state Health Department commissioner for community and family health services.

Variety Care operates several community health care centers in the Oklahoma City metro area.

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