I'm not going to sugar coat it: ACA outreach in Oklahoma is tough. But being uninsured is tougher.
One of my friends, in her late 50s, had been unable to afford health insurance for years, due to very high costs because of a minor pre-existing condition. Her job did not offer insurance, and she lived for years hoping she would make it to 65 so that she could get Medicare. Thanks to the ACA, her new affordable insurance started on Jan 1, and she is now scheduled for her first preventive care visit and mammogram in many years.
People here are proud of the fact that Oklahoma is the “reddest” state in the Union, and it’s been hard to find anyone brave enough to speak out in favor of the Affordable Care Act – but the partners I have been able to find are amazingly courageous people that I would never have met any other way. I’ve driven all over Oklahoma, from Tahlequah to Durant, speaking to groups of citizens and on country radio shows (where I once had to pause for a hilarious commercial for barbed wire.) We held a “Coverage is Good Medicine” poetry reading in a packed theater, and I have spoken at several conferences for agencies that work with the poor.
The stakes could not be higher in this state, where over 600,000 people, most of them working poor, are uninsured, and we rank near the bottom in most major health categories. Sadly, our governor has shown total opposition to the ACA, including rejecting federal funds to provide coverage to our lowest-income adults. With states like Utah now expanding Medicaid, I believe we have reached a tipping point. We are winning the battle, so it’s critical that we keep fighting for our patients.
Open enrollment ends in a little over 60 days. Help win the future for your patients. Take two minutes and put up this flyer. Then email it to 5 doctors and medical students and ask them to join you in reaching thousands by posting it in their community sometime in the next two weeks. Be sure to take a photo and share it with us!
Together we can make a difference,
Dr. Katherine Scheirman is the Oklahoma State Director of Doctors for America and a retired US Air Force Colonel.