TULSA, Ok -- The Oklahoma State Department of Health will no longer give state dollars to Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention programs and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Six of those centers are located in Tulsa under Morton Comprehensive Heath Services, the largest community healthcare system in northeast Oklahoma.
CEO Susan Savage said, “What it means for us is that the health of Oklahomans and the health of Tulsans will suffer."
Nearly 20,000 patients at Morton Health Centers could be affected by the cuts. Savage said, “A lot of this, I see the legislature kicking the can into the communities to say, 'Deal with it.'"
She explained that Morton is not a free clinic and patients are asked to pay something towards their healthcare and are put on a sliding scale.
The dollars the six Morton clinics in Tulsa won’t be receiving starting next year provided reimbursement of medical expenses for the uninsured. Now, that won’t happen.
Savage said, “40 to 50 percent of the people who walk through Morton's doors don't have health insurance, and they don't have health insurance because they can't qualify for Medicaid because we didn't expand and accept the federal dollars, and they don't make enough money to buy insurance on the health exchange.”
She added, “This will simply, along with the actions that were taken at the federal level by President Trump over the last weekend, we will see an increase in the number of uninsured people in Oklahoma."
The CEO says services may have to be contracted if the cuts that seem to be indicated in the federal budget also occur.
Savage is staying optimistic and says Morton clinics will continue to rely on the community's philanthropic donations to keep the doors open, despite the now lack of state funds.
She said, “This is the workforce issue. It's an economic issue. It's a community livability issue . . . It’s time to take the steps necessary to invest in the people of Oklahoma."
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