Personal, State-Level Developments

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

I would like to start by announcing some important personal news. Walker Tayloe Sanders was born April 15. He weighed in at 7 pounds 6 ounces and was 20 inches long. We are very blessed to have a second, healthy baby boy.

There is a lot of talk right now around the country about health care exchanges.

Some states are looking to set up free-market health care exchanges. The idea is to open a website where individuals can compare and purchase health coverage from a wide selection of private-sector options using pre-tax dollars.

Many of Oklahoma’s political leaders have recently voiced their desire to set up a free-market health care exchange in our state.

Meanwhile, however, the federal government, under the new federal health care law – ObamaCare – is taking steps to require all states to establish health care exchanges that are not based on the free market.

These ObamaCare exchanges would stifle competition by forcing individuals to choose from a narrow selection of health plans and providers. The result would be a rise in health care costs and increased government regulation.

To incentivize states to begin implementing ObamaCare exchanges, the federal government is awarding “early innovator” grants to several states. In February, Oklahoma was awarded a $54 million “early innovator” grant – the largest of any state.

Since the grant was announced, we have learned more about what it entails. The findings are not good.

Basically, the $54 million “early innovator” grant would lock Oklahoma into constructing the framework for an ObamaCare exchange. This would then be the framework the other 49 states would be encouraged to use to set up their own ObamaCare exchanges.

The grant would only be accessible to Oklahoma should we set up an ObamaCare exchange; a free-market infrastructure would not qualify.

In light of all this, I am pleased that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced last week that our state is rejecting the $54 million ObamaCare grant.

She realized, correctly, that accepting and implementing the grant would have locked our state into early implementation of ObamaCare.

Under the federal health care law, states have until 2014 to fully comply with ObamaCare’s mandates. Between now and then, we have the 2012 elections, which could open the door for ObamaCare to be repealed.

As well, the U.S. Supreme Court could rule the ObamaCare mandates to be unconstitutional. Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit against the federal health care law with this possibility in mind.

To be clear: It is worthwhile for Oklahoma to consider setting up a free-market health care exchange that would allow individuals to purchase private coverage with pre-tax dollars. Such a move could expand competition in the marketplace and allow for greater individual choice.

At the same time, though, we should continue to use all available means to push back against the oppressive ObamaCare mandates until all options have been exhausted.

For Oklahoma to accept and implement federal funds earmarked for the early implementation of ObamaCare would be counter-productive to efforts to overturn ObamaCare. And it would clearly be bad public policy for Oklahoma.

Finally, I want to take a moment and acknowledge the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. We can never forget that terrible day in which so many Oklahomans lost their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families that were affected and with the troops who are currently fighting against global terrorism.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.