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January 27, 2013

Business owners refusing to buy insurance

NORMAN — TECUMSEH - Ian and Phyllis Gliori are among the people who would qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage if Gov. Mary Fallin hadn’t turned it down.

That’s just fine with them.

Owners of Gliori’s Italian Restaurant in Fallin’s hometown of Tecumseh,

the Glioris say their household income last year was well below the $20,123 ceiling for a family of two in the Obama administration’s expansion plan.

“I just don’t want government in my life,” says Ian, 52, taking a break from preparing lasagna before the evening dinner crowd arrives. “I don’t want their help. I probably won’t take Social Security when I’m 68 either.”

The Glioris’ perspective might be a minority view among the uninsured. But it helps explain why opposition to Obama’s

Medicaid expansion appears widespread, and why Fallin concluded that the state would be better off without it, even though the federal government promised to pick up most of the cost.

The Glioris have no health insurance. So far, Ian says, they’ve been lucky.

They’re in good health and have had no major illnesses or injuries. Ian estimates his own medical expenses are less than $100 a year.

He went to the hospital emergency room once, about three years ago, with a bad case of poison ivy.

His doctor wasn’t available, the local urgent care clinic was closed, and he wanted some ointment to relieve the itching.

“The nurses there wouldn’t give me the time of day,” he says. “So it was at that point that I thought, I am going to take care of myself. And I have. Lord willing, I haven’t been sick. I have some good home remedies. I take vitamins and try to take care of myself.”

Gliori, who grew up in Chicago, says he learned by example from his mother, who raised seven children by herself after his father moved out.

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