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Policy changes alone won’t improve health outcomes

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Modified: February 22, 2010 at 4:07 am •  Published: February 22, 2010
attributed the state’s relatively poor health rankings to a number of factors, including the poverty rate, lack of health insurance and access, inadequate prenatal care and the risky behaviors summed up in Cline’s aforementioned antidote.

Poverty has been addressed by government for decades, with underwhelming results. This has always been a poor state, and the Legislature can do only so much to change that.

The high rate of uninsured has been addressed with the Insure Oklahoma program, funded partly from the tobacco tax. Incentives for improved school nutrition programs and exercise regimes have also gotten attention.

Health care access, particularly for lower-income citizens, is under threat from cuts in Medicaid provider payments, which could motivate more physicians to stop seeing Medicaid payments. Inadequate prenatal care hasn’t gotten the attention it should.

As for the bad habits, plenty of people have lots of ideas. Some use the carrot approach. Others use the stick. Any state program that involves a hefty appropriation is out of the question now.

Which takes us back to Pollan and Cline. For the state to improve its health care ranking, a significant number of Oklahomans will need to change their diets, exercise frequently and give up tobacco.

Believing that the state or federal governments can fix our health care problems is an empty-calorie snack.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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