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Health department cuts will cost millions for clinics helping uninsured patients

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Posted at 3:26 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 16:26:23-05

TULSA -- Oklahoma's Health Department cut the Uncompensated Care Fund this week.

This helps subsidize costs for uninsured patients.

Only 10 percent of Community Health Connection's patients are on private insurance, and 60 percent are uninsured. This past year that was about 13,000 people.

"That number of overall patients grows every year so the number of uninsured grows every year. It's a difficulty that the state of Oklahoma refuses to address," CEO Jim McCarthy said.

Community Health Connection operates on a $6 million budget. They learned this week they're about to lose one million of that. The center relies on the Uncompensated Care Fund as a last resort if they are unable to find donations or grants.

"It's going to be very difficult for us. We ask the philanthropic community to assist but they feel that in fact this is the responsibility of the government," McCarthy said.

McCarthy's clinic provides everything from gynecology and dental to pediatric and behavioral health care. He worries providers are going to shift from proactive to reactive tactics, eventually putting a greater burden on the state.

"Fewer people will be healthy. That means more people will be unable to work. That means more cases will go from a minor problem to a major problem," McCarthy said.

This clinic is planning to expand across town. However, McCarthy worries they'll have trouble staffing under the cuts to meet a growing demand.

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