By Bobby Stitt
Special to Guthrie News Page
As administrator at Mercy Hospital Logan County, I understand the financial challenges of managing a rural hospital. Being ready for all types of emergencies 24/7 with trained medical professionals and necessary lifesaving technology is expensive. Yet many of the hardworking folks in our community cannot afford health insurance and understand how crippling an unexpected diagnosis or emergency can be for families’ finances. Voting YES on State Question 802 on June 30 would provide an economic shot in the arm for the people in our community, our hospital, and our state.
This is possible by a 9:1 match from the federal government. Since 2014, Oklahoma’s leaders’ reluctance to bring home our tax dollars from Washington, D.C., to invest in our communities has cost us more than $1 billion every single year. In the past legislative session, a funding package was put forward to expand Medicaid that was vetoed by the governor. These are the same dollars that 36 other states already bring back to their states for health care and to boost their economy.
For Logan County, the passage of SQ802 is expected to result in job creation and an economic impact of $2.8 million annually. The health care this provides for our most vulnerable citizens will also provide much needed reimbursement for services provided by our local hospital. Annually, Mercy Hospital Logan County delivers over $1.6 million in charity and uncompensated care, representing a significant percentage of our total operating expenses. This rate of uncompensated care is unstainable for a small rural hospital, especially during times when our rates of reimbursement from Medicare and other insurers continue to shrink.
I am so proud to work alongside caring hospital employees and medical staff in Guthrie. We all know neighbors in our community who would not have survived without lifesaving care rendered by local health care professionals. In this time of economic downturn and COVID-19, it has never been more important for Oklahomans to vote to bring back federal funding for the economic and physical health of their communities and the sustainability of Mercy Hospital Logan County
I encourage you to learn more about SQ802 and how it will support our state and local economy by increasing health care to our most vulnerable and to help our local hospital continue to provide the care our residents deserve. The election is June 30, and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is June 24.