There are two bills addressing health insurance being discussed in the Oklahoma legislature, which are quite different. One was written by the insurance industry, and is being presented by Senator Ron Peterson. The other is from Senator Andrew Rice, who has made health care his signature issue (his wife is a doctor).
One of my favorite blogs, Down With Tyranny (which is not based in Oklahoma, as far as I know, but covers OK politics pretty consistently), found the editorial published in today's Daily Oklahoman, and gave it the DWT reality check:
The Republican Establishment in Oklahoma, along with their corporate masters, have their panties all twisted up because Senate Bill 1521, introduced by Senator Rice, which would require insurance companies to continue coverage of routine medical care for critically ill patients who submit to clinical trials. To the far right it sounds like communism. What they're pushing instead is a bill in the House that severely limits mandates on insurance companies, something Rice has pointed out as a “sell out” to special interests and a “'stake in the heart' of people who often are victims of arbitrary insurance policy rules that deny them access to health care.”
DWT is one of the organizers of BlueAmerica, the progressive “Netroots” section of ActBlue's online fundraising tool for Democratic candidates, and is very enthusiastic about Rice's current effort to replace the U. S. Senate's very best industry mouthpiece, James Inhofe of Tulsa.
Blue America has endorsed Andrew with great enthusiasm and we're looking forward to Oklahoma taking it's place once again as a state with members of Congress who fight for the people's interests rather than for corporate interests….
Hell, yeah! But wait, there's more.
…Andrew will be joining us for another discussion of health care at Firedoglake this Saturday (1pm Central Time, 2pm Inside the Beltway). He explained his ideas about health care to us this morning after the outrageous editorial in the Oklahoman.
“There are two main issues with health care right now– one is the problem with no coverage. In the system we have now, obviously many Americans cannot afford private insurance. Often there is only a thin line, or a couple thousand dollars' of income difference, between people who get no help from the government, and those who do. It is both a moral imperative and fiscally responsible to provide basic health coverage for all Americans. It is a win-win for our country: people get health care, and we save more money overall. What the far right seems unwilling to accept is that not covering people is the biggest driver of increasing health care costs in this country. The taxpayers eventually all end up paying for health care anyway, we might as well cover people up front, and save ourselves and small businesses a lot more money on the back end, than ignore the problem and see hospitals bleed money in the red, and see our friends and families declare for bankruptcy.
“The second issue is the one my bill addresses, and what the movie Sicko focuses on. For people who are able to afford private insurance, the coverage they get is often less complete than what Medicaid and Medicare cover. These are people who shell out their hard-earned money to buy a product (health insurance), but the companies they buy the product from often find ways to not make good on their end of the bargain (and of course it is not a bargain). Ironically, in Oklahoma government programs cover clinical trials for cancer treatment, but most private insurers do not. When hard work is not rewarded– when it can, in fact, leave you riddled with debt because of an insurance company's whim– something is not right. My bill is addressing this injustice to American consumers and working families.”