“Without the health care that Colorado took, I wouldn’t have gotten treatment for my illness,” says the man named Steve in the video above. “That’s the reason I’m still alive.”
Steve Schaben’s family is from Oklahoma, but he was living in Colorado when doctors discovered that he had a large brain tumor. Because Colorado is one of the 36 states that have accepted a 9-to-1 federal match to expand health coverage for their people, Schaben was able to get life-saving treatment. Today he is working, making music and finding his way back to a normal life because of that coverage.
If Schaben had been in Oklahoma at the time, he might not be around to tell us about it today. Or he might be like Kelly Smalley, struggling to live with a serious health condition and no way to get the care she needs.
That’s because our state continues to refuse the federal dollars to extend coverage, which leaves more than 100,000 Oklahoma stuck in the coverage crater, making too much to qualify for SoonerCare and not enough to get subsidized coverage on HealthCare.gov or other private options.
These are Oklahomans working in important jobs like home health aides, child care workers and food servers and preparers — that is, unless they get too sick to go to work. These are communities like Fairfax, Oklahoma, recently featured in The Washington Post as the latest rural hospital threatened with going bankrupt and shutting its doors because too many patients aren’t covered and can’t afford to pay.
Oklahoma’s uninsured rate is nearly the highest in the U.S. State lawmakers have the power to change that, but they need to hear from you.
Watch the video above to hear Schaben’s story, and then tell your lawmakers to bring our federal tax dollars back home to Oklahoma. Legislators and Gov. Kevin Stitt still have time to do the right thing this session.
If you’d like to join the dozens of Oklahoma organizations and hundreds of individuals who are part of the #CoverOK coalition, you can sign up here.