Hise: Rural health care realities

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Donald versus Hillary is an entertaining presidential race, but I’m more concerned with elections for state offices.

When we go to the polls Nov. 8, we can either vote to continue on the downward path that Oklahoma is on or we can vote to improve state health care.

Instead of just voting for candidates from one political party, vote for the candidates who are best for Oklahoma, regardless of party.

We’ve seen a decline in state revenue over the last several years, and we’ve seen legislators unprepared to deal with the resulting economic crisis.

State health care is also in a crisis, and those same legislators also seem unprepared to deal with it.

So when you go into the booth to cast your vote for state offices early next month, think about this. Continuing down the path we’re on is not just bad for the state of Oklahoma’s health care – it’s bad for the state of Oklahoma’s health, because it’s bad for our communities.

If the state’s rural hospitals continue to fail, the rural communities these hospitals serve are endangered. Hospitals and schools are the lifeblood of rural communities. When these communities lose their lifeblood, we lose these communities.

Just look around western Oklahoma for proof. See any once-thriving communities that are now practically ghost towns?

What we’ve been doing the last several years isn’t working.

As I choose candidates to vote for, I’m going to ask how they stand on these issues that affect the health and economic well-being of us in rural western Oklahoma.

I oppose provider cuts in the Medicaid program.

I oppose the “outsourcing of Medicaid” to out-of-state insurance companies.

I support accepting federal Medicaid funds, like most other states have, to increase state coverage.

I support building upon Insure Oklahoma, a program that allows small business owners to offer health insurance for their employees.

I support the passage of a $1.50-per-pack price increase of cigarettes and dedicating the money to health care programs with a priority of restoring provider rates in the Medicaid program.

I oppose any efforts to cap the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund for Telemedicine.

I support allowing rural hospitals to continue operating as emergency hospitals should those hospitals cease operations.

I support granting nurse practitioners full practice authority in Oklahoma.

All of those things I support will help rural Oklahoma’s health care and economic well-being. All of those things I oppose will hurt rural Oklahoma’s health care and economic well-being.

Do you want western Oklahoma to thrive? Do you want to raise your kids here? Do you want your kids to raise their kids here?

Join me in supporting candidates who will help rural Oklahoma’s health care and economy. Join me in supporting candidates who will work for a healthy and prosperous western Oklahoma where our children and grandkids can live – and will want to live – for generations to come.

Regardless of who you vote for in this presidential election, remember that the national government is different from state government. Remember that Oklahoma has unique needs. Remember that Oklahoma needs help – now.

We can’t continue doing what we’re doing. Rural hospitals throughout Oklahoma are closing and our rural communities are in danger.

Join me in voting for state candidates – regardless of party – who are good for state health care and good for our communities. The stakes are too high not to.

Landon Hise is CEO of Cordell Memorial Hospital.

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