The scorecard shows Oklahoma is 46th in the nation.
For Emma Morris, a policy analyst for OK Policy Institute, the ranking is not a surprise.
“Oklahoma has a pretty, pretty long history of underinvesting in a lot of things that impact health,” said Morris.
Other scores for health care include:
- 31st in supply, meaning personnel and health care facilities
- 43rd in health care outcomes
- 47th in insurance coverage
Morris said the state does not prioritize health care in its budget.
“If we look at what we spent in the year 2000 and what we’re spending now, when we adjusted for inflation and for population growth, we are spending less than we were in the year 2000,” said the analyst.
The Legislature passed a bill in the 2022 regular session that incentivized doctors for keeping healthier patients. Senate Bill 1337 creates a points-based system, so the more healthy patients a doctor has the more funding they receive from the state.
Senator Greg McCortney, Republican from Ada, authored the bill.
“I think outcomes and coverage have to go hand in hand,” said McCortney.
Coverage is weakest in rural areas, said Dr. Mary Clarke. Clarke is the former president of the Oklahoma Medical Association.
“We’ve done a lot to move that out into rural areas and make sure there’s coverage everywhere in the state of Oklahoma,” said the senator, referring to what the law is working to achieve.
Dr. Clarke does not support McCortney’s privatization plan, but they do agree on a couple of things.
“It is not unusual for someone to drive an hour and a half to see a physician,” said Clarke, talking about rural patients.
The need for more health care professionals is something that the doctor and politician admit is an issue.
The second treaty between the two is about personal health decisions.
“Our our biggest problems is what I call the chicken fried steak problem,” said McCortney. “We have bad eating habits in Oklahoma.”
Dr. Clarke confirmed that folks need to eat better and exercise more.
She added that when working on health care policies, more medical professionals need to be consulted, instead of relying on politicians with limited terms.
“I can’t just put one thing in place and poof, next year we have a 20% decline in obesity. That is never going to happen,” said Clarke.
The former Oklahoma Medical Association president said positive health outcomes takes a consistent agenda over the course of multiple years.
“It’s not just a miracle that everything turns out great and you end up being number one,” said the doctor. “You have to work on that all the time.”