The Duncan Banner


October 23, 2013

Benefits of healthcare (Part 2)

DUNCAN — These first three weeks into the largest social program the United States has undertaken have not been without logistical “bumps-in-the-road”. There is enough blame to go around - both sides of the political aisle have had a hand in the problems that arose within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s beginning. First, we waited to see what the Supreme Court would do.  Then October 1st arrived and the government was shut down by a contingency from the House of Representatives.  Since the Law could not be defeated, our nation’s budget was the next target.

With a new budget deadline of January 15, 2014, Health and Human Services - overseers of the Act - will have about 82 days with a full workforce to smooth out those “bumps-in-the-road.”   

The flooding of the Insurance Marketplace with individuals looking for insurance was caused, in large part ,by 32 states which refused to establish a state-run Marketplace. To compound the problem, there were states - like Oklahoma - that did not Expanded its Medicaid (Sooner Care) Program.  Next, Oklahoma obtained a “waiver” for individuals whose incomes are 100 percent below the poverty level. For individuals whose incomes are between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty level, health insurance for them is the EMERGENCY ROOM (if one is still operating in their area).

The airwaves have been full of quotes about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will  “.. cost people jobs” or “..cause small business’s to close their doors,” but no quotes from the people and businesses that have benefited from the Law.

Currently, under Oklahoma’s Medicaid program (Sooner Care), 49.9 percent of enrolled kids do not receive dental care.  The children of Marketplace policyholders will have both dental and optical care.  For those families who are content with their current health insurance, their children may remain on their plan until the age of 26.

Women will now be treated equally when applying for health insurance -not charged more because of gender - with the added provision that their insurance cannot be cancelled if they become pregnant.  At present, as described by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahoma does not have an insurance policy which includes pre-natal care. Statistically, Oklahoma currently reports a high mortality percentage of both baby and mother.

The Marketplace offers approximately 53 different plans under four major titles -

BRONZE, SILVER, GOLD and PLATINUM - offering varying co-pays and extents of coverage that meet the requirements of the Law.

Oklahoma Insurance Department Commissioner Doaks’ criticism of the cost of insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can be traced back to Oklahoma’s lax regulations on insurance providers. Part of this problem is resolved by the Act itself because rates cannot rise more than 10 percent without approval of the administrators of the Marketplace. Doaks’ claim that “..You need to watch out or your insurance from the Marketplace could cost you thousands..” is childish.  We know that the amounts we pay for any insurance policy - health, life, car, home, or recreational vehicle - is based on deductibles or co-pays we choose.

At present, 23.2 percent of the median income of an Oklahoma family is spent on health insurance premiums.  This is the 11th highest in the nation.

An example of the Affordable Care Law’s importance is the DHS survey showing 72.5 percent of full-time, year-round Oklahoma workers with health insurance reported excellent or very good health while 58 percent of the uninsured did not.

 If Oklahoma does not Expand Medicaid, by 2016 there will be a projected 515,000 people without insurance.  331,000 will soon discover they are the “uninsured!”  

These numbers, gained through census reports, health department surveys and questionnaires, show why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is so important to the every day life of all Oklahomans!

Kenneth Wells, 580-444-2563,

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  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014