“The Great Healthcare Drought:” Oklahoma’s budget stalemate

Natalia Mora, Memorial Staff Writer

In contemporary America, a fountain spring of constantly optimized innovation, the flexibility of readily available healthcare domains seem to lack the luster of the age’s more pressing issues. There are only so many breaking stories a news outlet can cram onto the front page without the risk of being dismissed as a sensationalist resource.

The media should be warned, however, because as Oklahoma pours its funds into venture prospects of today’s fluctuating controversies, like marijuana legalization and LGBT civil rights, a medical aid funding dilemma threatens to rub alcohol into the Oklahoma Department of Health’s untended wounds.

Sixty-four of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are legally registered under a primary medical care provider shortage. Only 85 active physicians are available per capita of 1,000 people – that is physicians who are paid only $144,100 per year for their troubles, statistically ranking Oklahoma the 50th percentile lowest physician salary in the nation. As if that wasn’t enough to alarm Oklahoma’s health care patients, of those sparsely distributed healthcare providers, one of every four are expected to retire in the next 10 years.

For such a respected and revered position in society, health care workers are criminally neglected, scraping the bottom of national listings in salary and accumulating what other states would call modest earnings at best.

Oklahoma’s poor spending decisions will invoke severe consequences on its citizens and their healthcare providers unless serious reforms are made, an investment our government displays no signs of pursuing.

The solution can establish programs designed to accommodate to aspiring specialist physicians in rural settings, like OSU’s Rural Medical Track engineered to best provide for rising physicians in the comfort of their rural hometowns. It can also raise an awareness of the healthcare crisis, in the hopes of emboldening our government to take a similar initiative.

Alternatively, incentives have been utilized from medical programs to further alleviate the average medical student loan debt of $100,000. Collegiate loan repayments are being offered to not only attract resident specialists but also a congregation of doctors from elsewhere in the nation with a plethora of ranging backgrounds, work ethics and specialties.

Solving the healthcare drought is no trivial task. Nevertheless, the state’s wound can be temporarily healed if an action plan is crafted entailing all concerned parties in partial if not total consensus, adequately funded with sincere punctuality, and executed with a certain degree of punctuality and sophistication, respecting the physicians that dedicate their lives and their occupations to preserving Oklahoma’s humanitarian benefits.

Contact Natalia Mora at [email protected]