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Playing snow day roulette

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It
seems our Republican “leadership” has opted for a similar strategy
regarding the establishment of a health care exchange. Rather than
taking federal funds to establish the exchange, the governor, under
right-wing pressure and the hope that the U.S. Supreme Court would
strike down the entire law, rejected the funds. This risky move did not
pay off for our state.

Now, the same “leadership” is placing its bets on a repeal of the law following the November election.

This, too, is an irresponsible, risky gamble.

Even
if Republicans gain control of the White House, the Senate and the
House, striking down the law will be no easy feat. While the mandate may
be struck down through the reconciliation process, large portions of
the law have nothing to do with direct spending or tax law, and
therefore, will be subject to a Democrat filibuster. The state’s failure
to establish an exchange will result in exactly what these individuals
supposedly fear: federal control of the exchange.

One
aspect of the court ruling sure to please these ideologues has made it
easier for states like Oklahoma to opt out of the expansion of Medicaid.
I fear that our governor and legislators, driven by rightwing dogma
rather than by empathy and compassion for the indigent, will reject this
expansion, thereby denying coverage to an estimated 250,000 Oklahomans.
This would be an outrage.

Ultimately,
we have gotten a modest, primarily market-based insurance reform law,
one once promoted by everyone from the conservative Heritage Foundation
to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Rather
than being the bipartisan bill Romney claimed it could be, it became an
ultrapartisan bill shrouded in hyperbolic vitriol and outright
disinformation by those who wished nothing more than to see the
president fail.

It’s
time for our state’s “leadership” to put this ultra-partisanship aside,
stop playing their version of “snow day roulette,” and do their job:
Establish the exchange and expand Medicaid, thereby working toward
affordable health coverage for all Oklahomans. As Romney rightly
insinuated in 2009, health care is too important to [Oklahoma’s] economy
and families to be at the whim at such partisan grandstanding.

—Todd Fagin, Oklahoma City

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