Medical insurance has a constant presence in public conversations and Jay Johnson, president and CEO of Duncan Regional Hospital, expressed his thoughts to the Duncan Rotary Club.
“More than 636,000 Oklahomans are uninsured and almost 80 percent of those do have jobs,” Johnson said.
Johnson spoke to the civic organization during its meeting Wednesday about why he and those at DRH believe Oklahoma should accept federal funds for the uninsured. Oklahoma did not take such funds this year, however, will again have the option to next year.
“Duncan Regional is successful because we have great providers and great facilities and this takes money,” he said. “We’re not planning on offering less; we’re planning on offering more.”
DRH has already made cutbacks where they can to avoid taking huge hits after financial cuts from the federal government sequester and ACA Medicare take effect in the near future. On the other hand, the hospital would like to recruit providers in order to bring in different specialties, invest in the health of the community and provide disaster preparedness.
These steps take funds that aren’t readily available, which is where accepting federal funds from the uninsured comes in. Not only would this help DRH’s position, Johnson said, but would be an opportunity for less fortunate Oklahomans to gain access to care.
“Coverage could be provided for at least 180,000 low income working adults.”
By accepting these funds, Johnson pointed out that those who normally wait to seek care until a trip to the emergency room is necessary will instead have a primary care physician they see regularly. Therefore, helping maintain a healthier population.
In addition, DRH will see a reduction of about $500 million each year of uncompensated care costs to the hospital. Hospitals are required to screen and stabilize all emergency patients.
“When people walk into the ER, we know that one out of four patients won’t pay for anything,” said Johnson. “But we don’t turn anyone away. Come in and we’ll take care of you.”
Should Oklahoma accept these funds, Johnson said the state will receive $8.6 billion in new revenue from now through 2022 and more than 15,000 health care related jobs will be created.
Other agencies will also benefit should Oklahoma accept these funds, he said. The Department of Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Department of Corrections are just a couple.
“Health care is not easy to understand but we will get through this,” Johnson said. “I will keep you informed as we go and hope you support this.”