Apprehension and optimism abound in Oklahoma as the Affordable Care Act shifts into higher gear with the opening of the federally-run health-care marketplace on Oct. 1.
At the same time, residents and business owners are awaiting the unveiling of an “Oklahoma Plan” to expand health coverage and improve health outcomes that Gov. Mary Fallin promised in her State of the State speech earlier this year.
These and other topics were discussed Tuesday evening during Oklahoma Watch’s first “Oklahoma Watch-Out” community forum at Kamps 1910 Café in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma's infant mortality rate is declining but remains above the national rate.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Tuesday that the state's infant mortality rate has declined from 8.6 per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 7.9 per 1,000 live births in 2012.
But the state's infant mortality rate remains above the national rate of 6.15 per 1,000 live births recorded in 2010. Suzanna Dooley, director of the agency's Maternal and Child Health Service, says about 90 fewer Oklahoma babies would die each year if the state matched the national rate.
In just six weeks, nearly one in 10 Oklahomans will be able to buy subsidized health policies from private insurance companies through a new online marketplace set up by the federal government.
Many more who don’t qualify for the subsidies will still be able to shop on the marketplace and obtain coverage, even if they’ve been turned down in the past for pre-existing conditions.
But it won’t be simple. Several companies will offer policies, with different levels of coverage. Tax credits will be available for people falling within certain income ranges. Many people will need one-on-one assistance to navigate the registration process.
Several states are now trying to tackle what they see as a serious public health concern. Oklahoma is one of the leading states on that front, as PBS Newshour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports.
At age 22, college football player Austin Box had suffered a slew of painful injuries. Two weeks after his graduation, he overdosed on a lethal cocktail of pain medications, none of which he had been prescribed. Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports on the perils of painkillers and the difficulty of combating abuse.