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Oklahoma State Senate

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For Immediate Release: March 3, 2008

Senator Andrew Rice
Sen. Andrew Rice

Statements by Sen. Andrew Rice, D-OKC, author of SB 1458, the Oklahoma Veterans’ Health Insurance Program

• “I appreciate the Oklahoma veterans who join me today as we attempt to gain Senate passage of the Oklahoma Veterans Health Insurance Program. These veterans represent thousands more Oklahoma veterans who believe they have earned access to quality health care.”

• “Some will say that Oklahoma cannot afford to help uninsured veterans gain access to health care. But, I don’t think those people realize the unfairness in their argument. How many of these veterans, when they were ordered into battle, looked at their commander and said: ‘how much is it going to cost me?’.”

• “I wish that every veteran could be guaranteed access to VA Health Care. But until that day, Oklahoma should fill the void and make sure that these veterans who fall through the cracks of federal and private insurance are taken care of.”

• “I believe that no veteran should be left behind. States like Illinois and Wisconsin are among those that have stepped up to offer health insurance coverage for veterans who had none. In Oklahoma, we take great pride in our contribution to America’s military readiness and the Veterans Insurance Program is a reflection of that pride.”

• “We owe veterans the opportunity to recuperate and reshape their lives when they return to civilian life. That cannot happen without access to affordable medical care. I believe every Oklahoma military veteran has earned the right to qualify for some form of health insurance.”

Facts about SB 1458, The Oklahoma Veterans’ Health Insurance Program

• Creates the Oklahoma Veterans Health Insurance Program for veterans below age of 65 who do not qualify for free Veterans Health Care or cannot afford private insurance. Veterans aged 65 and over qualify for Medicare if they do not have private coverage;

• Would provide coverage by July 1, 2009 for veterans who qualify;

• Approximately one in eight veterans does not have health insurance, according to a national study by the Harvard Medical School. There an estimated 214,000 veterans in the age range set by the program. If one in eight is uninsured, there would be an estimated 27,000;

• The Oklahoma program would not be free. Veterans will be required to pay premiums and co-payments based on their household income. Veterans can lose eligibility if they don’t make timely payment of their premiums or if they live in a nursing home or inmate correctional facility;

• Nationally, almost two-thirds of uninsured veterans are employed and nearly nine in ten worked within the past year, according to the Harvard study;

• Virtually all WWII and Korean War veterans are over 65 and are covered by Medicare; However, approximately 645,000 Vietnam-era veterans nationally are uninsured; More than one million Persian Gulf/Iraq/Afghanistan War veterans are uninsured;

• Uninsured veterans have the same problems getting the medical care they need as do other uninsured Americans, but many of them are more likely to have serious illnesses that require extensive care.

For more information contact:
Senator Rice's Office:  (405) 521-5610

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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