Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, Seeks Resolution of Health Care Exchange Issue

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, Seeks Resolution of Health Care Exchange Issue

Article excerpt

Saying the state needs to decide the issue one way or another, state Rep. Joe Dorman tried to call for special session of the Oklahoma Legislature Wednesday to address the Obama administration's requirement that each state create a health care exchange.

Dorman, a Democrat from Rush Springs, said he made the attempt because the state needs to resolve the issue of health care exchanges.

"I don't expect the call for a special session will be popular, but we have our backs to a wall," he said. "And something needs to be done. We can create a health care exchange or we can vote against creating an exchange, but we need to decide."

House Republican leaders shot down the effort.

When Dorman attempted to make an announcement for a petition urging the special session, his microphone was cut off by the presiding officer.

"I think speaker-elect (T.W.) Shannon thought I was attempting to make a motion, but I just wanted all the members to know that I have the petition here in my office so they can sign it if they are interested," Dorman said in a media statement. "We have a limited window of opportunity to act and take official action on behalf of the state, and I thought it would be best to announce it today while most of the members are present."

Dorman said he's drafted a petition for members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives to sign. Should enough members sign, the House could convene a special session to decide what action to take in regards to the health insurance exchange required by the federal health care reform law passed in 2010.

"If we don't implement our own plan of action by the deadline, the federal government will come in and create one for us," said Dorman. "This is our opportunity to maintain some level of control over how our exchange is designed and functions if the legislators and Governor (Mary) Fallin decide to go that direction. Oklahomans often say they don't like the federal government sticking its nose in our business, but they are really going to exert some extreme control over us soon if we don't act."

Dorman said the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of signatures of current members of both legislative bodies to call the Legislature into special session by petition, unless the governor calls a special session.

"Today when nearly all the members of the House were present was the best time to make the announcement," he said. "I prefer to do it in person rather than by email so I can answer any questions about the petition the members may have. We need to determine what the will of the majority is, and the only way to do that is by having a special session where we can deliberate our options and vote on it. …

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