Oklahomans Sound Off On Healthcare Reform

Wednesday, July 22nd 2009, 4:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The president's healthcare plan is stirring the fires across the country and here in Oklahoma. Supporters say something needs to be done to help those without insurance; critics are saying no more bureaucracy.

Each of the opposing views hope their message gets across to leaders in Washington.

Most agree healthcare in the U.S. needs to be addressed, but how to do it is up for debate.

Forty-six million Americans do not have health insurance. Many in Tulsa rely on the Bedlam Clinic, run by the OU School of Community Medicine, for free or inexpensive healthcare.

Dr. Gerard Clancy is the school's president. He's met with White House officials in support of President Obama's plan and says the evidence is clear about the dangers of going without insurance.

"We now know that those individuals without healthcare coverage are twice as likely to be diagnosed late with cancer compared to individuals with health care coverage, and most of those cancers are cancers that we can screen for and they're cancers that can be actually cared for," said Dr. Gerard Clancy of the OU School of Community Medicine.

Dr. Clancy says those without insurance still seek medical care, but usually when it's too late and then by going to the emergency room which causes delays. It's the cost of the ER visit, he says, that forces everyone to pay.

"We are paying for the uninsured," Clancy said. "We're just paying at a much higher cost than we normally would because they are accessing health care at higher cost levels."

 "I think the way that we're going is precisely the wrong way to go," said Ben Callicoat, a Tulsa resident.

Ben Callicoat is a bankruptcy attorney who sees how the high cost of healthcare can take its toll. But, he says, the president's plan is too ambitious and he doesn't want the government in the examining room.

 "We're going to get to a point where the U.S. government gets to decide who gets treatment and who doesn't - and if that doesn't scare you, it really should," Callicoat said.

Both sides want change. Dr. Clancy says it needs to happen sooner than later. Ben Callicoat wants the market to fix itself.

It's up to Congress to determine how soon a decision will be made.