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COMMENTARY
Medicaid
(HealthInsurance.org)
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FAIRFIELD BAY, Ark. — I have taken the time to provide a summary of The Oklahoman editorial board’s riveting drivel: Declining Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma proving to be a wise decision.

Basically, there’s only one thing the The Oklahoman’s editors dislike more than a poor person, and that’s a poor person who needs medical attention. Thank God Oklahoma lawmakers hate all the indigent sick humans as much as The Oklahoman does!

As a result, I have a few choice words for editorial board members Kelly Dyer Fry, Owen Canfield III and Ray Carter.

First, if you break your wrist while golfing, are you thankful there won’t be too many disgusting poor people getting in your way at the emergency room? Probably so.

But second, we must speak plainly in these dark times. Put down your mask of “fiscally concerned citizen” and accept that you just published a few hundred words explaining how you care nothing for the suffering of others.

Also, let me help you see the other side.

I am on Medicaid, but relax: I live in Arkansas, not Oklahoma.

I am a single mother. I do not receive child support. My ex-husband fled the country and left a small mountain of debt and no forwarding address. I work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, and I pick up side gigs when possible. Still, we are barely making it.

These details are not an attempt to grow your tiny Grinch hearts. This is simply who I am, and I want you to feel like you know a person on Medicaid, because you obviously don’t.

‘Arkansas Medicaid Expansion saved my life’

I lived most of my life in Oklahoma. My “village” is there, but I can’t live there. In Arkansas, my son and I can go to the doctor. In Oklahoma, I wouldn’t have health insurance.

Last month, I had a terrible pain in my stomach. I made an appointment with the doctor, but before I could make it to my scheduled visit, I was driving myself to the ER.

An appendectomy (the removal of an offending appendix) has become a quick and simple procedure. If you receive timely medical attention, you will be fine. If you do not, however, you can die. I had an uncle that died of just that — a ruptured appendix. Once an appendix ruptures, the unbearable pain goes away, and you might think you’re fine. (Especially if you are poor, uninsured and proud, like my uncle was.) But then nasty crap leaks out into your gut and poisons everything.

I tell you all that to tell you this: Arkansas Medicaid Expansion saved my life. So while you are patting Oklahoma lawmakers on the backs for rejecting millions of federal Medicaid dollars from the state’s budget, I’m over here wondering if you are capable of seeing that Medicaid is more than just numbers and dollars. It serves real people who would otherwise be uninsured.

Arkansas saw a 57 percent reduction in the uninsured rate from 2013 to 2015, when the expansion program was approved. So there are fewer people racking up medical bills they cannot repay. There are fewer people falling ill and, in some cases, dying because they cannot afford to go to a doctor. But that is in Arkansas. In Oklahoma, the message remains, “We don’t care about you.” And you’re proud of that.

Those with pre-existing conditions will suffer more

You are excited about Tom Price, your wealthy white Republican surgeon savior. And while he is busy burning your much-hated Obamacare to the ground, he is also going to be pushing bills that make it possible for your insurance to refuse coverage of your wife’s maternity care, your father’s prostate cancer medication and your, yes YOU, your pain meds for your sciatica. (That always acts up after a few rounds of golf, am I right?) So if you can’t care about other people, you at least need to care about anyone in your life who has a pre-existing condition.

You also pointed out that Medicaid expenses were higher in 2015 than predicted in 2010. Listen, we both know you are being obtuse. Everything increased in price from 2010 to 2015. An EpiPen is over $600 now. Cancer drugs cost $100,000 year. A friend of mine — a father of triplets — just passed away from brain cancer, and his daily drug cost him $1,000 a pop. He had the same cancer 15 years ago, and that pill didn’t exist then.

‘I am real’

I know it’s difficult to imagine that a Medicaid recipient might be an intelligent, hard-working woman who is just white-knuckling through a pothole in the bumpy road of life.

When discussing a Medicaid-expansion program that you’ve long hated, you instead want to focus on numbers and fear-inciting “data.”

But I need you to see me as a person. I am real. I am good. I am trying, and I need help. And, sometimes, I need medical care.

Please use your unique position for good. Taking care of all Oklahomans is good for your state.

If you need proof, please come to Arkansas.