Health Care Priorities

Health Care Priorities

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

I believe that all Oklahomans should have the oppurtunity to have insurance, yet I do not support the federal proposals to create either a government-run system or a government-funded non-profit system. Our private insurance and health care system isn’t perfect, but I am not yet ready to replace it with another system when there are so many ways to improve it without a complete overhaul.

The public option, which thankfully found opposition in both conservative Democrats and Republicans, would cripple small insurance businesses in rural Oklahoma – hurting the local economy and taking away high-paying jobs. The federal government always passes some costs to the state, which would take state dollars away from education and other vital areas of our budget. Both federal proposals are bad; the public option is the worse of the two.

Though the compromise legislation that was drafted in the Senate does not include a public option, it does include government-funded non-profit cooperatives and costs  more than $800 billion. Like the public option though, it will draw customers away from the private insurance companies in rural Oklahoma – forcing some to close their doors and others to raise their premiums.

Meanwhile, as both terrible proposals are being pushed by liberal lawmakers, Oklahoma has been taking great steps to find ways to insure the uninsured. New basic plans for young, healthy Oklahomans are also being created at lower premiums by allowing certain plans to be exempt from state mandates. More importantly, lawsuit reform has passed and will drive down the cost of doctors’ insurance, lowering health care costs in the state.

I believe that the next step is to open up more private competition by allowing out-of-state health insurers to offer their services to Oklahomans and finding away to allow individuals to carry their insurance from one job to the next. Changing the tax code to end discrimination against self-employed individuals would also help, particularly in the agricultural field in rural Oklahoma.

Making sure all who need insurance have it is an important goal. However, the federal proposals are too expensive and unnecessary. Democrats and Republicans battle daily over funding and what rules industry and individuals have to follow. Do we really want to bring that battle into our health care system by putting the government in charge of it?

If you have any questions or concerns I can be reached at my office at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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