By Patrick B. McGuigan
Two Oklahoma City physicians on Thursday (June 28) cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Dr. Katherine Scheirman declared, “I think it’s a wonderful thing for America. I’m relieved and happy. The main beneficiaries of this decision will be the American people, especially those who haven’t had access to our health care system.”
Dr. Scheirman, a military veteran, has been active with “Doctors for America,” a group advocating for retention of the federal law. She contends 32 million more Americans will gain insurance as a result of the new law. In April, she led a rally in Oklahoma City, co-sponsored by the Democratic party, advocating for the law, “to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, high quality health care.”
At the time of the “Doctors for America” rally, Oklahoma County Democratic party chair Marguerite Leon told The City Sentinel the federal legislation “is clearly constitutional.” The court narrowly agreed with her assessment in one of the most widely anticipated rulings in modern American history.
Dr. Boyd Shook, who operates a free clinic in Oklahoma City, told CapitolBeatOK, “The first word out of my mouth when I heard about the ruling was ‘Alleluia!’ A couple of things are important now. It’s extremely important, clearly important, for Oklahoma to develop a health exchange of its own. If we don’t we will be thrown into the national pool and subject to federal control. That is not in Oklahoma’s best interest. There is not that much time left to do this, so we need to get moving.
“A second point is that the number of people eligible for Medicaid is going to go up by a large number. To have this many people suddenly eligible is going to put a strain on Oklahoma’s infrastructure. We do not have enough primary care physicians to absorb this.
Dr. Shook elaborated his view: “Presently those left out of Medicaid get care, through free care clinics and emergency rooms. This law being upheld means we are presented with the opportunity to change the locus of their care.
“To sketch another issue, hospitals are pleased to have Medicaid patients, doctors are not because of the fee structure. We have to seriously address that issue. People who understand economics and health care need to sit down and get to work on that. Many who have health insurance carry high-deductible low-cost plans then they may want to shift to Medicaid as a result of this ruling.
“Many of my patients at the free clinic will now be eligible for health insurance under this ruling. And, we’ll have to retool. Some patients may stay with us and for those who do we’ll need to develop the logistics to submit insurance claims.”