A long-time advocate of health care reform said any additional cost to the State of Oklahoma as a result of federal health care legislation could be easily offset by eliminating waste, fraud and utilizing better management of medical records.
“The fact is, if we had already addressed these issues, the federal government wouldn’t have needed to step in,” said Senator Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah. “We already take billions of dollars from the federal government to fund a variety of programs.”
Wilson said for every tax dollar Oklahoma sends to Washington, the state actually receives $1.35 back.
“There was no outrage when Medicare was passed in 1965, because everyone knew the insurance companies didn’t want these older patients as they tended to get sick and cost too much,” Wilson said. “But now we have a system that is broken and failing people of all ages. The federal government stepped in because the states did nothing.”
Wilson said there is an appropriate role for the Attorney General, and that is in the area of consumer protection. He said by reducing the administrative overhead from 31 percent to the 16.7 percent of Canada, Oklahomans would save $3.2 billion.
“If we automate and electronically connect health records as the Veteran’s Administration does, Oklahomans will save $800 million and 750 lives would be saved every year,” Wilson said. “If we avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions for seniors, that’s another $165 million. These are just a few examples of savings. The bottom line is there are things we can do that are well within our power and that will more than offset any costs.”
Based on the Common Wealth Fund’s state score card, if Oklahoma’s health care performance improved to the level of the best performing state, Wilson outlined the following outcomes:
· 303,956 more insured adults ages 18-64
· 75,883 more insured children ages 0-17
· 167,030 more adults ages 50 and older would receive preventive care
· 60,944 more adults ages 18 and older would receive three recommended services for diabetes
· 13,064 more children ages 19-35 months would be up-to-date on vaccines
· 302,693 more adults ages 18 and older would have a source for usual care
· 169,740 more children ages 0-17 would have a medical home
· 20,347 fewer preventable hospitalizations for ambulatory care ages 65 and older
· $88,551,000 would be saved from the reduction in hospitalizations
· 4,492 fewer hospital readmissions age 65 and older
· $51,352,000 would be saved from the reduction in hospitalizations
· 3,017 fewer long-stay nursing home residents would be hospitalized
· $25,532,000 would be saved from the reduction in hospitalizations
· 1,707 fewer premature deaths before age 75 might occur from treatable or preventable health care
“For years, the debate on true health care reform has not been fact-based. It has been fear-based, driven by the greed of those who profit most from a broken system. As a result, hundreds of thousands of working Oklahomans have not been able to afford insurance. Even those fortunate enough to have it often find that after years of faithfully paying premiums, the companies will do everything in their power to avoid providing the care patients need,” Wilson said. “With proper reform, there will be no additional cost to Oklahoma, but the benefits will be innumerable.”