By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Paramount OKC Theater was filled to capacity with people eager to hear poetry and to learn about the new healthcare options during the Good Medicine Poetry event. As part of the ‘Coverage is Good Medicine Campaign’ presented by Doctors for America, Oklahoma poets Lauren Zuniga, Dorothy Alexander, Ken Hada and Jim Spurr were featured performers.
Katherine Scheirman, M.D., Doctors for America Oklahoma State Director and event co-sponsor said, “I want to make sure that everyone knows that starting Oct. 1, many people in Oklahoma are going to be eligible for private health insurance through the healthcare marketplace.”
Scheirman says Oklahomans will be able to compare and select from private health insurance plans online by visiting healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.
“Doctors For America is working to counteract some of the untruths that have been told about the Affordable Care Act,” Scheirman said. “It’s an uphill battle because those in opposition are very well funded, so we appreciate all contributions.”
A three-time national poetry slam finalist, Zuniga was a featured TEDx speaker in 2011 and is author of The Smell of Good Mud (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012).
“As an uninsured single mother and working artist, finally having access to healthcare will change my life and allow me to continue doing the work of a poet/activist,” said Zuniga. “Relieving the constant fear of getting sick will change the lives of so many working Oklahoma families.”
Along with Dr. Scheirman, the event was co-sponsored by Bob Lemon and Oklahoma poet Dorothy Alexander. Lemon is a well-known local activist and philanthropist. Alexander is co-owner of the Village Books Press with partner Devey Napier.
“I want to thank Dorothy Alexander, our featured poet, Lauren Zuniga, my sister Jane Anderson and especially Bob Lemon, who contributed a lot to this event.”
According to Dr. Scheirman, from Oct. 1 to March 31, a new health insurance marketplace will offer plans that: 1) Cover the basics like doctor visits and hospital stays; 2) Have low and even no-cost options depending on your income; 3) Cannot exclude you due to preexisting conditions; and 4) Have no fine print.
“The event was a blast,” Scheirman said. “Lots of positive energy was generated and many handouts about the Affordable Care Act were distributed. Several physician assistants and psychologists and a former Dean of the OU College of Medicine attended.”
Lawyer turned poet, Alexander has authored four poetry collections and a number of non-fiction short works. She received the 2013 Carlile Award for Distinguished Service to the Oklahoma Literary Community, awarded by the Oklahoma Center for the Book and Friends of the Libraries in Oklahoma.
Alexander said, “Dr. Scheiman goes all over the state bringing awareness about this issue. Coverage is good medicine and poetry is good medicine. I’m here today to combine the two.”
“I know there are people who are working against the Affordable Care Act, but they will not succeed if we are vigilant and keep working,” Alexander said. “The goal of this event was to bring awareness to you and hope that you will go back into your communities and spread the word.”
From Ada, Oklahoma, Hada is a professor at East Central University. His award-winning books include “The Way of the Wind,” “Spare Parts” and “The River White: A Confluence of Brush & Quill.” Ken also contributes regularly to the poetry blog, All Roads Will Lead You Home.
“It’s good to be reminded that we’re all Oklahomans and we are all Americans, even if some of us struggle sometimes with basic, everyday needs,” Hada said. “We can’t really consider ourselves virtuous if we ignore the plight of the less fortunate.”
A native Oklahoman, Spurr received the title of poet laureate of Shawnee in 2011. A nationally published poet, Spurr’s book “Open Mike/Thursday Night” was a finalist for the 2008 Oklahoma Book Award. Spurr has a new collection of poetry, “Hail Mary, On Two,” released by Village Books Press.
“I did this because affordable health care is the right thing. It’s the Christian thing to do, and it’s the American thing to do,” Spurr said. “I served this country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne and I want that to mean something. Unless we do the right thing by our people, our sacrifices are meaningless.”
For more information, visit www.HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
Good Medicine Poetry event sparks interest in Obamacare
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