Life-expectancy data a 'startling reminder' of health care problems in Oklahoma

This week’s Washington Post report highlighting Stilwell, Okla., as having the lowest life expectancy in the U.S. is a startling reminder that many eastern Oklahomans have been overlooked by their elected representatives, Congressional candidate Jason Nichols said Tuesday.

Nichols, D-Tahlequah, is running to be the next representative for Oklahoma’s vast Second Congressional District, which spans more than two dozen counties in eastern Oklahoma from the Kansas border in the north to the Texas border in the south. Adair County is in the Second Congressional District, with Stilwell as the county seat.

“It’s discouraging to see a report that shows the life expectancy in Stilwell is just 56.3 years,” Nichols said. “Compared to the national average of nearly 79 years, we can see that we are failing our fellow Oklahomans. This situation is the result of many factors that have played out for generations. History has shown us how to increase life-expectancy rates, and that’s, in part, by improving medical care.”

The life expectancy data provided by The Washington Post is a result of a study by the National Center for Health Statistics. The Washington Post labeled the report from the Center as “the most detailed local health data ever released… .”

Oklahoma also has one of the worst statewide averages for life expectancy at birth, at less than 76 years – only ranking higher than Alabama, West Virginia and Mississippi, according to the data.

“This report should be a strong reminder that not only is health care an important issue here in the cities and counties of the Second Congressional District, but it’s a topic we must discuss in the entire state of Oklahoma and across the U.S.,” Nichols said. “We can no longer settle for the status quo if we want to reverse this trend. Health care shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to a select few. We must protect Medicare and Medicaid programs, which provide better access to health care for many eastern Oklahomans. And we must agree to find practical solutions that ensure all of us have access to medical care when we need it.”

The Washington Post has provided an interactive search of life expectancy rates by zipcode and address in its online story, found here.

For more information on Jason Nichols, visit http://www.nichols4congress.com/ or find him at Facebook.com/nichols4congress.