I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun July 4th holiday. As Americans, we are blessed to live in a country where we are able to enjoy so many freedoms. We celebrate those freedoms on our Independence Day – one of which is living independent from excessive government, which is why America was founded in the first place. However, I believe our government has forgotten its humble beginnings and original purpose and is now trying to exert too much control over the American people when it comes to healthcare.
As were many conservatives across the country, I was so disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold the Affordable Care Act, aka. Obamacare. I still believe that this program is a gross overreach of government power by them forcing us to buy any private product be it insurance or anything else.
The Oklahoma legislature must now put all of our energy and focus into creating a free-market, state-based health insurance exchange. Fortunately, we won’t be starting at square one in this effort as Sen. Gary Stanislawski and Rep. Glen Mulready, both of Tulsa, conducted an interim study in 2011 to identify a possible program to help keep health insurance decisions in the hands of Oklahomans rather than the federal government. Their recommendation was to establish an exchange similar to the one in Utah, which was established before the national health care law was written.
If Oklahoma doesn’t create its own health exchange by January 1, 2013 and have it operational by January 1, 2014, the federal government will impose its own program on the state in January 2014.
Hopefully come November it won’t be a problem and the American people will choose a new leader and the health care law will be repealed. Whether the state establishes a health exchange or the federal government does, it’s still going to put a tremendous financial burden on Oklahomans.
Nothing is free in life. Many Americans have been distracted by the smoke and mirrors of the president’s plan believing that it will truly make health care more affordable for all Americans. But common sense tells us that this program is going to make health care costs explode. We have a significant portion of the country’s population who doesn’t pay for insurance and the rest of us are expected to bear the burden of paying for our family’s insurance and all of those other individuals’ health care costs. We already pay for millions of these individuals through taxes that support Medicaid, but now we’ll be paying for even more citizens as there are many who don’t qualify for Medicaid and their employer doesn’t provide it so they simply go without.
Oklahoma taxpayers currently pay for the health care costs of just under one million Oklahomans through SoonerCare and Insure Oklahoma. Under the new health care law, states have the option of expanding their Medicaid coverage to those with household incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If we did this, Oklahoma taxpayers would have to bear the costs of health care for an additional 200,000 Oklahomans.
The Heritage Foundation points out that the program will especially hurt seniors by threatening their access to doctors, treatment options and insurance plans. Nearly one-quarter of all seniors rely on Medicare Advantage, the private health care option in Medicare. However, Obamacare makes such deep cuts to that program that half of those covered will no longer be able to keep the coverage they have. New taxes on drug companies ($27 billion) and medical device makers ($20 billion), as well as new reporting requirements and regulations imposed on physicians, will make access to health care and services more costly and difficult for seniors under Obamacare.
President Obama believes he’s won a victory, but many Americans believe otherwise. He pledged not to raise taxes on middle-income families making less than $250,000 but his healthcare plan will do just that. Many families that make far less than $250,000 a year have high-end health plans and will be subject to the excise tax called for under his health plan.
This program will not pay for itself. Don’t be fooled, our taxes will go up significantly. I’ve heard, in fact, that if this health care plan isn’t repealed, that it will mark the largest tax increase in our country’s history.
We need leaders who will repeal this law and replace it with a program that will protect the doctor-patient relationship, restore citizens’ freedom of choice and encourage free market competition, which helps keep costs down. The American people were deceived, but now the Supreme Court has clarified that this program is in fact a tax, and I hope the people stand up for their rights come November.
In closing, I want to let everyone know that I will only be sending out a monthly column during the interim. I’ll resume my weekly newsletters in January.
To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Josh Brecheen, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 513A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at email@example.com, or call (405) 521-5586.