Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Mandated Health Care Coverage Draws First Partisan Blood

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Mandated Health Care Coverage Draws First Partisan Blood

Article excerpt

Was it political partisanship or a philosophical difference that led to a unanimous Democrat "no" vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a bill to curb the Legislature's ability to pass laws mandating specific health insurance coverage.

The bill passed the House with 53 Republican and no Democrat votes. Two or three Republicans also voted against the bill.

Authored by state Rep. Ron Peterson, R-Broken Arrow, House Bill 3111 cleared the House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services, with little opposition, but a decision by the House Democrat Caucus to oppose the bill apparently led the way to the partisan unanimous Democrat "no" vote on the House floor.

While possibly the first display of partisanship in the House, it certainly will not be the last. In spite of House Speaker Chris Benge's effort to appease the House minority, it is becoming clear a number of Democrat members want to pursue a partisan anti-business agenda.

This typical bias was best expressed by state Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D- Seminole, who said, "This bill simply rewards insurance companies and punishes families who are forced to pay the high cost of insurance."

Nonsense! That is nothing but political demagoguery. It is requiring insurance companies to write these specialized and often expensive coverages that contribute to the "high cost of insurance."

Peterson's bill neither prohibits enactment of mandated coverages nor affects those previously enacted.

It simply requires any legislative measure mandating offering of health coverage by an insurer, hospital, medical, dental or optometric service or health care services organization could only be introduced in odd-numbered years of the legislative session, and not be passed until the subsequent even-numbered-year session, except by a three-fourths majority vote.

The time delay would allow for a more rational and less emotional approach to passing such requirements.

"We need to determine the true costs of these mandates before we pass them. Given the extreme costs that already exist in the health care system, it's just common sense to ensure we aren't making a tough situation worse for those Oklahomans who struggle to buy health insurance. …

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