The Norman Transcript

Local news

January 27, 2013

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

SHAWNEE — Inside a cramped clinic office, Dorthea Copeland prepares for the weekly pilgrimage of poor people seeking free health care. They’re already lining the hallway, trading tales of sore throats and bum tickers.

“Some of these people just lost their insurance. Some of them work, but don’t make very much. Some of them are self-employed,” says Copeland, a feisty 85-year-old who’s been running Pottawatomie County’s free clinic since it opened 14 years ago.

“You can usually tell by looking at them that most of them really need the help.”

Copeland is in charge of recruiting doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other helpers who donate their time on Thursday evenings to help Pottawatomie County residents who don’t have health insurance and don’t qualify for government assistance.

Coincidentally, she’s also the aunt of Gov. Mary Fallin, who grew up in Tecumseh as Mary Copeland. In November, Fallin rejected an Obama administration offer to finance much of the cost of expanding Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. If Fallin had accepted, many of the people filing into the clinic this evening would be eligible to

participate.

Pottawatomie County’s free clinic is a microcosm of the health coverage challenge facing Oklahoma policy-makers. Fallin’s decision to reject the Medicaid expansion has left an estimated 130,000 or more low-income Oklahomans in a coverage crater that offers few options for affordable health care. The problem tends to be more pronounced in smaller towns and rural areas, where incomes often are lower and employers less likely to offer benefits.

Asked to comment on the clinic operation, Fallin praised the work that Copeland and others are doing, describing her aunt as “a wonderful lady who has spent much of her career dedicated to helping other Oklahomans.”

The governor said she is looking for ways to address the coverage crater, but remains convinced that the Obama initiative is “unaffordable and unworkable.” Even with the federal government picking up much of the tab, Fallin’s office contends the expansion would increase state spending by $689 million over 10 years. Advocates of expansion counter that the cost to the state would be minimal.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation officials find more cracks in Lexington-Purcell bridge, but repairs on track

    State transportation officials announced Tuesday that additional repairs are needed in at least 96 places on the Lexington-Purcell bridge before it can be opened....

    April 23, 2014

  • Stacy Ford named 2014 Norman schools Teacher of the Year during banquet

    Stacy Ford, Kennedy Elementary librarian, was named 2014 Norman Public Schools Teacher of the Year at the district’s annual Celebration of Excellence banquet Tuesday evening at the National Center for Employee Development....

    April 23, 2014

  • Council OKs $48.8M contract for wastewater plant upgrades

    The Norman City Council awarded a $48.8 million project for wastewater treatment plant upgrades Tuesday. The council accepted a $50.3 million low-interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund....

    April 23, 2014

  • Water carry 5 Water Walk opens discussion about difficulties in obtaining safe H2O

    With large white plastic buckets upon their heads, two gallons of water sloshed to the brim and over the side, but the students trudged on down the South Oval. The farthest feat was to the Seed Sower, and as the sun glared down, heat ...

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blood drive planned Thursday

    Moore Norman Technology Center, 4701 12th Ave. NW in Norman, will host an Oklahoma Blood Institute public blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday inside room A109 in the main building of MNTC’s Franklin Road campus.  The OBI is in ...

    April 23, 2014

  • Local student to attend arts camp

    Kate Kemmet, 15, of Norman, has been accepted and will attend Interlochen Arts Camp. Kemmet, the daughter of Rob and Lori Kemmet, will study musical theater at the Camp....

    April 23, 2014

  • Coalition seeks more jobs

    A coalition of groups that encourage employment of residents who have disabilities hopes to double the number of placed workers by next fall....

    April 23, 2014

  • Ex-judge cleared to run in McAlester

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A McAlester judicial candidate is cleared to run for office despite stepping down as a special judge in 2011 amid misconduct allegations, the State Election Board unanimously ruled Monday....

    April 23, 2014

  • Contemporary Dance Oklahoma to perform at OU

    The University of Oklahoma University Theatre and School of Dance will present Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, a mixed program of new choreography, works from the CDO repertory and guest choreographer Jessica Lang’s “A Solo in Nine Parts.” ...

    April 23, 2014