The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 26, 2013

Free clinic microcosm of Oklahoma's health coverage challenge

SHAWNEE, Okla. — Inside a cramped clinic office, Dorthea Copeland prepares for the weekly pilgrimage of poor people seeking free health care. They’re already lining the hallway, trading tales of sore throats and bum tickers.

“Some of these people just lost their insurance. Some of them work, but don’t make very much. Some of them are self-employed,” said Copeland, a feisty 85-year-old who’s been running Pottawatomie County’s free clinic since it opened 14 years ago.

“You can usually tell by looking at them that most of them really need the help.”

Copeland is in charge of recruiting doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other helpers who donate their time on Thursday evenings to help Pottawatomie County residents who don’t have health insurance and don’t qualify for government assistance.

Coincidentally, she’s also the aunt of Gov. Mary Fallin, who grew up in Tecumseh as Mary Copeland. In November, Fallin rejected an Obama administration offer to finance much of the cost of expanding Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. If Fallin had accepted, many of the people filing into the clinic this evening would be eligible to participate.

Pottawatomie County’s free clinic is a microcosm of the health coverage challenge facing Oklahoma policy-makers. Fallin’s decision to reject the Medicaid expansion has left an estimated 130,000 or more low-income Oklahomans in a coverage crater that offers few options for affordable health care. The problem tends to be more pronounced in smaller towns and rural areas, where incomes often are lower and employers less likely to offer benefits.

Asked to comment on the clinic operation, Fallin praised the work Copeland and others are doing, describing her aunt as “a wonderful lady who has spent much of her career dedicated to helping other Oklahomans.”

The governor said she is looking for ways to address the coverage crater, but remains convinced the Obama initiative is “unaffordable and unworkable.” Even with the federal government picking up much of the tab, Fallin’s office contends the expansion would increase state spending by $689 million over 10 years. Advocates of expansion counter that the cost to the state would be minimal.

Fallin said she would propose a “substantial increase” in health funding when the Legislature convenes in February. State health officials, meanwhile, have hired a Utah consultant to make recommendations for possible legislative action this year.

For several thousand uninsured people in Pottawatomie County, Copeland’s free clinic is still the best thing going.

Text Only
Local and State News
  • photo.PNG UPDATED: 4.3 quake shakes Enid and area

    The earthquake happened at 9:48 p.m. and centered 14 miles west-southwest of Medford, or 23 miles north-northwest of Enid. Storify featuring ENE Facebook comments embedded in story.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Symphony presenting Summer Wine series

    The series begins Aug. 5 with a one-hour concert that will feature vocalists Douglas and Lawana Newell, and the Rev. Andrew Long on piano.

    July 28, 2014

  • 3.0 quake is recorded

    A magnitude 3.0 earthquake rattled the Cherokee area Monday afternoon.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lady_Liberty_A-26_3_BH_W.jpg Work begins on Lady Liberty's engine

    A-26 Lady Liberty Support Group has raised $20,000 of the $60,000 needed for rebuilding the engine of the bomber, which saw action in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cool Snap_Hass_W.jpg Cool snap brings heat relief to Oklahoma, Arkansas

    A cold front headed for Oklahoma and Arkansas will bring unseasonably cool temperatures and a chance of rain through next week, weather forecasters said Monday.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • City of Enid brand.jpg City moves next meeting to Monday

    Their meeting and study session, originally scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5, will be on Monday instead.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • iw_worldtour_3lines_flat_hd.jpg TNA Impact Wrestling announces show in Enid

    TNA Impact Wrestling will make a stop in Enid in September.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Trentadue.jpg Trial opening over video of Oklahoma City bombing

    Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue says the FBI won’t release security camera videos that show a second person was with Timothy McVeigh when he parked a truck outside the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb, killing 168 people.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo 1 Link

  • crime stoppers web.jpg Truck reported stolen in Enid

    The victim told the reporting officer sometime between 7:30 p.m. July 16 and 11:30 a.m. July 17, someone took a vehicle from in front of their residence. The vehicle is a gray 1991 Dodge Dakota displaying 2014 Oklahoma tag 205-HUV.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rodeo 1_W.jpg Rush of adrenaline

    Teen’s interest in bullriding leads to 4th-in-nation recognition at National High School Finals Rodeo.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

News Photos


Enid News & Eagle photos taken throughout February 2014. Enjoy full-access all ENE photos at http://enidnews.smugmug.com