Friday, January 30, 2009

Hello again, everyone! The 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature has arrived.

With the beginning of each legislative session comes the renewed struggle to make Oklahoma an even better place to live, work and raise a family. During the session, there will be epic disagreements; each idea placed before the Legislature must endure intense questioning and careful scrutiny.

Health care will be one of the most important issues discussed during the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. That debate began last year with measures to require health insurance coverage of autism and clinical trials.

Neither proposal became law because some of my colleagues focused more on what they thought the price of the coverage would be rather than what its value truly is. Now, some of those same lawmakers who opposed ending insurance discrimination against children with autism will take a different tack this year.

They have proposed a stripped-down health insurance product that would segregate those with high health risks from those with low risk factors. This is, I believe, a foolhardy attempt to reduce the number of Oklahomans who uninsured.

Under that plan, we statistically might be able to say fewer Oklahomans are uninsured. The real question for those who would buy the product is: What conditions really would be covered?

Because only the young and healthy could qualify for this stripped-down plan, the next important question is: Would this proposal drive up insurance costs for those who are neither young nor healthy? I believe it would – further harming those least able to endure harm from the government.

Neither of those questions have, as of yet, been answered by those proposing the plan. The answers to those questions would determine whether these ideas truly are in the best interest of the people. Without the debates at the Capitol, these questions would never be honestly answered in the light of day.

While some dislike dissention, it is the means by which tough questions get honest answers. Mindless agreement with every position – the idea to “go along to get along” – leads to grievous mistakes of policy that can harm us all. Honest and legitimate debate – no matter how challenging, no matter the venue – gives us better answers and ultimately a better state.

Those debates are what lie ahead over the next four months, and I am honored to be your voice in the Senate - asking tough questions, and answering them. For, in the final analysis, that is how we achieve a brighter future for us all.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any comment, question or concern. My Capitol office can be reached directly at (405) 521-5586 or by an in-district number at (580) 924-2221. You also can send letters to me at State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.

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