Tahlequah Daily Press

February 13, 2013

Pressure on Fallin: TCH CEO stresses the importance of expanding Medicaid

By BOB GIBBINS
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah City Hospital CEO Brian Woodliff told Tahlequah Hospital Authority board members Monday about the importance of expanding Medicaid.

The issue has been a topic of discussion for some time, and Gov. Mary Fallin has been one of 10 governors across the country who has chosen not to start the health care exchanges required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Woodliff said federal funding would be available to the area, if the exchanges are started.

“We have always been of the opinion that more insurance is good for the economy,” he told the board at its monthly meeting Monday night. “We don’t want to miss out on these tax dollars that have already been paid.”

Woodliff said if that happens, funds paid by Oklahomans would go to other states.

THA Trustee Gary Chapman asked Woodliff what the revenue would bring to the local hospital, and the CEO said it could mean as much as $1.7 million more revenue for the facility annually.

Woodliff said, in a previous report, that 40 percent of the annual visits to the TCH emergency room are from Medicaid or uninsured patients, and 80 percent of those visits are for non-emergency conditions.

The hospital CEO also let board members know the TCH Foundation will be recognized at a March 4 event in Tulsa, hosted by the Oklahoma State University Foundation. Board members are invited to attend the event.

Woodliff announced 672 people have let the hospital know they will attend the Eighth Annual Hearts of Gold Gala this weekend.

The event provides funding to allow TCH to help absorb care costs for the uninsured and also helps fund scholarships to students interested in pursuing healthcare careers.

Former Oklahoma University quarterback Steve Davis, country music artist Thomas Martinez, and Russ McCaskey, from KJRH Channel 2, will be at the Gala.

Credentialing was also approved for several physicians.