OK-SAFE, Inc. Blog

May 19, 2011

It’s Official! Health Insurance Exchange Bill (SB 971) Won’t Be Heard

Oklahoma City, 5/18/11 – Legislative leaders today announced that SB 971, the Senate substitute for the controversial  Health Insurance Exchange bill (HB 2130), will not be heard this session.

Instead, the OK Legislature will form a special joint legislative committee to examine how the  federal health care bill impacts Oklahoma.

This is a win for the citizens who have been lobbying against this effort all session.  (See earlier posts below for details).

If these legislators are serious about really examining the federal health care bill, and health insurance exchanges, and willing to be honest about its’ impact on Oklahomans, they will have independent citizen-researchers participating in this committee.

Below is today’s press release from the OK Legislature.

Health Care Law To Be Studied Over Interim
Direct Link to This Story

PhotoContact:Jarred Brejcha
Capitol: (405) 521-5605

Contact: John Estus
Capitol: (405) 962-7674

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 18, 2011) – Legislative leaders today announced the formation of a special joint legislative committee that will study how the new federal health care law affects Oklahoma.

As a result, legislation that would create an Oklahoma health insurance exchange will not be heard this year.

Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker Kris Steele ordered the formation of the joint committee.

“Studying this issue in more depth makes for healthy legislative process,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “The more ideas we have at the table, the better. The scope of this law is vast, so we need to make sure we are prepared to address this law in a conservative way that is best for Oklahoma.”

The joint committee will hold a series of public meetings over the legislative interim focusing on how the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affects Oklahoma. The committee will also explore how to best approach the law as the state awaits the outcome of its lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

The committee will make recommendations on how the state should address the federal health care law.

The committee will also study the costs local governments and businesses will face as a result of the federal health care law.

“The best course of action for Oklahoma to take at this point is to step back and absorb the weight of this federal law and study it in more depth so we can proceed on the right course,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “In light of our opposition to the federal healthcare law, we need to have the public and private sector work together to come up with the best solutions for Oklahoma.”

The committee’s co-chairs will be Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa. Additional members will be named at a later date. The committee will have bipartisan membership.

“There is widespread support and excitement among all the stakeholders about the prospect of studying this issue in more depth,” Stanislawski said. “Participation in this joint committee will be enthusiastic. We look forward to receiving a wide variety of input and coming up with recommendations that serve all of Oklahoma well.”

“Oklahomans clearly oppose the federal health care law, as evidenced by the passage last year of a state question opting out of the law and our lawsuit against the federal government challenging the law,” Mulready said. “We do not like this law, but we must responsibly address it so Oklahomans can continue to have choices rather than mandates when it comes to their health care.”

May 3, 2011

OK Exchange Language Found! SB 971 Establishes an Insurance “Network”

Dropping the term “exchange” in favor of “network” and adding “private enterprise” to the title is apparently aimed at providing assurance to Oklahomans that this OK Republican administration is serious about not implementing a Health Insurance Exchange in Oklahoma.

Here is the language found in the newly introduced SB 971, the replacement for the controversial HB 2130, which narrowly passed the OK House on 3/17/11 and which the Senate refused to hear.

See if you can see much assurance that a framework for an exchange is not being built if this bill passes…bill language below:

SB 971, by Myers/Jolley of the Senate and Sears/Martin,(Scott) of the House.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:

SECTION .     AMENDATORY     Section 2, Chapter 128, O.S.L. 2009 (36 O.S. Supp. 2010, Section 4602), is amended to read as follows:

Section 4602.  A.  The Insurance Commissioner in collaboration with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority shall advise and aid the Health Care for the Uninsured Board (HUB) in its duties.  The Insurance Commissioner is hereby authorized to promulgate such reasonable rules as are necessary to implement the purposes of this act.

B.  The State Board of Health shall direct the implementation and duties of the HUB to assist the Insurance Commissioner.  The duties of the HUB shall be to:

1.  Advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Commissioner as to the matters addressed in subsection C of this section; and

2.  Assist and advise the Commissioner on such other matters as the Commissioner may submit for recommendations to the State Board of Health

The purpose of this act is to allow Oklahoma to establish and operate its own Health Insurance Private Enterprise Network to facilitate access to health insurance and enhance competition in the individual and small employer health insurance markets.

B.  As used in this act:

1.  “Aggregate premiums” means a mechanism to pay insurance premiums with contributions from multiple sources;

2.  “Defined contribution” means pretax dollars contributed by the employer;

3.  “Insurance producer” has the same meaning as defined in Section 1435.2 of Title 36 of the Oklahoma Statutes;

4.  “Network” means the Health Insurance Private Enterprise Network; and

5.  “Network Board” means the Health Insurance Private Enterprise Network Board.

C.  The Health Insurance Private Enterprise Network shall be established as a state-beneficiary public trust.

D.  The Network shall be governed by a board of directors.  The Network Board shall consist of seven (7) members as follows:

1.  One member appointed by the Governor representing health insurance carriers granted a certificate of authority by the Oklahoma Department of Insurance;

2.  One member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives representing consumers and who has purchased policies through the Network or is reasonably expected to purchase policies through the Network;

3.  One member appointed by the Governor who shall be a health care provider;

4.  One member appointed by the Governor who shall be a representative of employer groups;

5.  One member appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate who shall be an insurance agent or broker;

6.  The Insurance Commissioner; and

7.  The Secretary of Health and Human Services.

E.  The Insurance Commissioner shall serve as chair of the Network Board.  The Network Board shall appoint an Executive Director.

F.  In order to avoid the establishment of a federal exchange, the Network shall have the minimum authority under state law that is necessary to implement its purposes.  Funding for the Network shall come from state and private sources.

G.  The purpose of the Network shall be to:

1.  Increase choice and competition in the health insurance market of Oklahoma;

2.  Provide more choices and options in the health insurance market for employees in the state;

3.  Promote and encourage portability of coverage;

4.  Promote a competitive, patient-centered, market based health insurance system that includes a defined-contribution health insurance alternative for employer-sponsored coverage which includes an aggregate premium system;

5.  Encourage health insurance carriers to collaborate with medical providers to offer health insurance coverage that provides consumers quality care delivered in the most cost-effective manner; and

6.  Establish a fair and impartial health insurance producer referral network for the purpose of assisting individual and qualified small employers in obtaining health insurance coverage through the Network.

H.  The Network shall not:

1.  Exercise regulatory authority over any entity;

2.  Discriminate against any qualified health insurance carrier willing to participate in the Network; or

3.  Supplant any marketplace outside the Network.

I.  The Commissioner Network Board shall:

1.  Establish a system of certification for insurance programs offered in this state to be recommended offered by the HUB the Network; and

2.  Establish a system for the credentialing of licensed insurance producers who intend to market insurance programs certified by the state in accordance with this section.

3.  Establish a system of counseling, including a website, for those individuals who are without health insurance and are not covered by Medicaid, that includes but is not limited to:

a.            educating consumers about insurance programs certified by the state in accordance with this section,

b.            aiding consumers in choosing policies that cover medically necessary services for that consumer, and

c.             educating consumers on how to utilize primary and preventative care in order to reduce the unnecessary utilization of services by the consumer; and

4.  Establish a system whereby if an individual qualifies for a subsidy under the premium assistance program, established in Section 1010.1 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes, that person is able to become enrolled through the HUB in conjunction with local, qualified insurance producers.

J.  All personal information generated through the purchase of any policy purchased through the Network shall remain confidential between the insurer and the insured.

K.  The Network Board shall promulgate rules as necessary to implement the purposes of this act and to help individuals facilitate the selection of health insurance coverage and to allow health insurance carriers to provide market based health insurance products without unnecessary regulation and burdens.

SECTION .     AMENDATORY     Section 3, Chapter 128, O.S.L. 2009 (36 O.S. Supp. 2010, Section 4603), is amended to read as follows:

Section 4603.  A.  The Insurance Commissioner in collaboration with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority shall initiate a program to encourage enrollment of individuals, not covered by insurance or enrolled in Medicaid in health insurance programs.

B.  Upon treatment of an uninsured individual or an individual not covered by enrolled in Medicaid, a health care provider shall refer the individual to the HUB Network established in Section 2 4602 of this act title to begin the enrollment process in a certified insurance plan or the premium assistance program established in Section 1010.1 of Title 56 of the Oklahoma Statutes, if eligible.

SECTION .  The provisions of this act shall be subject to legislative review and renewal no later than May 25, 2014.

SECTION .  This act shall become effective November 1, 2011.

53-1-1708            ARE        4/27/2011 4:10:04 PM

Twelve Truths About Legislation

OK-SAFE, Inc. was created in late 2006 by 13 concerned Oklahomans with the express purpose of stopping the Trans-Texas Corridor coming into the state of Oklahoma.  Since then, we’ve both expanded our efforts and fine-tuned them to address specific issues such as objecting to the collection of personal biometric information, the growing surveillance society, and the continued expansion of the reach and scope of state government.

Networking with other grassroots groups, we’ve learned from the bottom up how to research an issue, how the legislative process works, how to lobby, and how to read and track legislation. We educate others on how to do the same.

Seekers of the truth, we’ve also learned how to discern political doublespeak.  We’ve come to understand that the legislative process in Oklahoma has been corrupted not only through perversion of words, but by special interests. The process is agenda-driven.  Only certain types of bills get a hearing and are allowed to advance through the legislative process.  Other bills, although sound in principle and policy, are either ignored or introduced to pacify constituents, their author knowing full well the bill will go nowhere.

Bad language, stopped one year, is slipped into a different bill later on, or held for a new, unsuspecting legislator to run.

Legislators ignore the people’s concerns and pass liberty-killing legislation anyway, pooh-poohing their research and warnings. They add “claw back provisions” as false comfort to prevent abuse of some newly created give-away scheme, directing taxpayers money to most-favored businesses.

Apparently this pattern of abuse has been noted elsewhere – listed below are Twelve Truths About Legislation from Freedom Keys.

  1. Any law the electorate sees as being open to being perverted from its original intent will be perverted in a manner that exceeds the manner of perversion seen at the time.
  2. Any law that is so difficult to pass it requires the citizens be assured it will not be a stepping stone to worse laws will in fact be a stepping stone to worse laws.
  3. Any law that requires the citizens be assured the law does not mean what the citizens fear, means exactly what the citizens fear.
  4. Any law passed in a good cause will be interpreted to apply to causes against the wishes of the people.
  5. Any law enacted to help any one group will be applied to harm people not in that group.
  6. Everything the government says will never happen will happen.
  7. What the government says it could not foresee the government planned for.
  8. When there is a budget shortfall to cover non-essential government services the citizen will be given the choice between higher taxes or the loss of essential government services.
  9. Should the citizens mount a successful effort to stop a piece of legislation, the same legislation will be passed under a different name.
  10. All deprivations of freedom and choice will be increased rather than reversed.
  11. Any government that has to build safeguards into a law so that it will not be abused is providing guidelines for abusing the law without violating it.
  12. Any legislator up for re-election will vote against a bad law if and only if there are enough other votes to pass it.

Whoever wrote this list must have been watching what happens in the Oklahoma legislature.

We can only conclude with these words – Never believe a politician.

OK-SAFE, Inc.

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