The Norman Transcript

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January 27, 2013

Pottawatomie County's free clinic a microcosm of Issues facing state

(Continued)

SHAWNEE —

 Fallin said she would propose a “substantial increase” in health funding when the Legislature convenes in February.

State health officials, meanwhile, have hired a Utah consultant to make recommendations for possible legislative action this year.

For several thousand uninsured people in Pottawatomie County, Copeland’s free clinic is still the best thing going.

 

‘Trying to survive’

Standing at the head of the line in the clinic tonight is Brad Trice, 45. He’s divorced and lives with his father in Tecumseh.

Trice says he has been coming to the clinic for free prescriptions since his blood pressure skyrocketed to 250/170 several months ago, landing him in the hospital emergency room.

Trice says he hasn’t worked since 2010, when he lost his job as a certified nursing assistant at a Seminole nursing home. He hasn’t had health insurance since 2005, when he was working at a Walmart store.

“I’m just a human being trying to survive,” he says. “But we’re all doing that.”

 On a previous visit, Trice asked the clinic for help with a badly ingrown toenail.

He was referred to an outside physician, who wanted $250 to fix it. The clinic doesn’t offer surgical services.

 Trice says he couldn’t afford to pay that much. “It still hurts like a son of a gun,” he says.

 

Expansion plan

 About 28 percent of Pottawatomie County residents between the ages of 18 and 64 had no health insurance in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That compared to 26 percent statewide.

Many of them would be eligible for government-paid health care under the Obama initiative, which would have expanded Oklahoma’s Medicaid program to all working-age adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level. That equates to $14,856 a year for a couple and $30,656 for a family of four.

Under existing law, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program excludes adults unless they have dependent children living at home and their income falls below a relatively low level— $4,368 for two people and $6,996 for a family of four.

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