Monday, June 28, 2010

Free Market Solutions to Health Care Costs

I have always enjoyed the dialog I have with House District 31 residents following the release of my weekly update. Their responses to these updates provide the opportunity to have an ongoing conversation about the issues of importance and I absolutely benefit from that feedback.

I recently wrote an update about the effort to allow you to vote on opting-out of the federal health care proposal. You will have this opportunity in November. In response to that update one of the individuals who supports the federal health care proposal wrote in response stating that it is important for those of us in opposition to point to alternatives to the proposed federal government action. She is absolutely right to make this point. As I have observed the legislative process it seems to me that there is little more frustrating than dealing with a policy maker who says "no" to other people's ideas but does not come forward with ideas for providing another solution. I informed her that I would endeavor to write future updates about the possible solutions to health care cost issues which could be incorporated without government involvement. This is one of those articles.

In this case the problem is the rising cost of health care insurance. This rising cost has given liberal politicians all the ammunition they need in order to attempt to provide lower cost government solutions.

I am a big believer that given time the free market will provide these solutions. I was very much re-affirmed in that belief starting in the spring of 2009 when I was appointed to participate in a working group which was seeking to analyze some of the challenges faced by the state employee health insurance system. This working group evolved into a type of statutorily created task force whose suggestions were incorporated into legislation this past year. During that time I believe I invested more of my time into researching and advocating for reforms to the state employee health insurance system than to most other areas of policy.

As you might imagine, one of the largest costs to the State of Oklahoma is the insurance it provides to the thousands of state employees and their dependants as well as the employees of other government entities such as school districts and county governments.

As a working group one of our tasks was to look at free market solutions and seek to apply these solutions in order to realize cost savings to the taxpayers and the various government entities which must purchase this insurance.

Working with State Representative Lewis Moore and State Senators Cliff Aldrige and Bill Brown and House and Senate leadership we worked to create an initiative which included free market approaches to driving down health costs, secured the support of the state employee and teachers associations and won legislative approval before being unfortunately and somewhat unexpectedly vetoed by the Governor.

During next week's update I will write about these solutions and my vision for their possible inclusion in future legislation.

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