On Tuesday, the
The coalition says expanding the eligibility criteria for Medicaid would provide greater access to healthcare for every
Supporters of Medicaid expansion have said making more Oklahomans income-eligible would boost the state's economy. Many of
Stillwater Medical President and CEO
Stillwater Medical operates clinics in many of the smaller communities located near it's main facility, operates
She says the lack of funding has been devastating for many of the rural hospitals in the state, which have average operating margin of 1%, which doesn't provide enough to reinvest in facilities or give raises to staff.
Others haven't survived, leaving their communities without access to health care.
"Since 2016, eight hospitals have declared bankruptcy and six have closed their doors -- all in rural
SMC took over operation of
At the time,
"We have a 26-bed hospital; Our census was six," Johnson said. "... We just could no longer provide that amount of care. We were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year because we were trying to maintain a 26-bed hospital, full service hospital, in a rural community that's 70 percent, probably, are Medicare patients."
Expanding Medicaid would help people who find themselves in the gap, making too much to qualify for assistance but not enough to afford insurance, Webber said. People go without insurance or are forced to buy policies that have deductibles up to
"Failing to take the opportunity to cover the uninsured by accepting available federal funds has hurt many families in northern
Under expansion, Medicaid would be available to those making less than 133% of the federal poverty level, which is about
Webber said the Medicaid reimbursement rate is low, but at least it's something and it would help the people and medical facilities in rural areas.
"This will help ensure that there's hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans who have access to life-saving emergency care, it will keep rural hospitals open, and it will create thousands of jobs," he said.
Thirty-six states have already accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid. Last year, voters in
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