OKLAHOMA CITY (April 15, 2011) – State Rep. Mike Ritze said today that he opposes any and all attempts to create a health care exchange in Oklahoma, regardless of whether or not state officials accept a $54 million federal grant.
"As the House author of the state question that Oklahomans passed last November to opt-out of ObamaCare, I feel this new exchange proposal is the same old path to socialized medicine," said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. "The free market can adopt this approach and we do not need any government involvement with an exchange, especially at the cost of one million state dollars that we do not have."
He noted that Utah’s exchange model has already failed, along with those established in Massachusetts, Oregon and Tennessee, costing millions of tax dollars.
Ritze, a physician and surgeon, said state lawmakers should focus on opening up the health care system to free market forces.
"Senator Brown and I introduced Senate Bill 57 to open up the free market of health care to make buying health care insurance the same as purchasing homeowner’s or car insurance. Under that measure, Oklahoma would enter compacts to allow citizens to shop for insurance across state lines. There are more than 100 health care companies available, but we are federally mandated and restricted to only purchase from four to six in Oklahoma. Japan, in contrast, has more than 5,000 health care insurance companies to choose from. Increased competition will lead to lower prices and better products."
Ritze noted that he also introduced House Bill 1276 this session. The legislation would nullify ObamaCare in Oklahoma.
"Oklahoma and 12 other states have had legislation introduced to nullify ObamaCare," Ritze said. "I think it is the appropriate action to take considering how many Americans oppose the federal health care law."
On April 14th Governor Mary Fallin said “I’m pleased to announce this agreement that accomplishes my goal from the very beginning: stopping the implementation of the president’s federal health care exchange in Oklahoma. We have addressed concerns expressed by implementing strict safeguards to prevent the implementation of the federal health care exchange while definitively laying out the framework for a free market-based network that will empower consumers by providing a place for individuals, families and small businesses to shop for affordable, quality health insurance plans.”
House Speaker Kris Steele: “Health care coverage is not a one-size-fits-all issue. We need to make all options available to the people. The goal is to equip Oklahomans with the information necessary to make wise decisions. The network will provide a user-friendly tool intended to help people identify a health plan that best fits their individual needs.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman: “This private enterprise network not only offers the people of Oklahoma more options when buying insurance, it will serve as a defensive strategy that protects Oklahoma from the federal health care law. This is Oklahoma’s solution and federalism at work. Our plan is based on the principals of the free market; it will not limit participation, it will increase competition among private plans and offer consumers the ability to shop for their best option.”