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Oklahoma State Senate
Senator Charlie Laster
Democratic Floor Leader
Senate District 17
Pottawatomie, Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties

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For Immediate Release: July 16, 2009

Republicans Offer Nothing More Than Political Rhetoric on Health Care Debate
Democratic Leader Not Surprised Given Republican Pattern of Protecting Insurance Industry

The Democratic Leader of the State Senate said he isn’t surprised by the hollow words being spouted by members of the Senate Republican caucus today in regards to health care reform.

“It’s a classic political move to throw out political rhetoric and invoke fear when change is on the horizon,” State Senator Charlie Laster said. “They have shown they are willing to do anything to protect their friends in the insurance industry, even if it means making Oklahomans go without health care.”

Laster pointed to a pattern of behavior by Republicans in the last legislative session as proof they are squarely deep in the pockets of big insurance.

- An unprecedented rule change in the state Senate where Republicans made it impossible for Democrats to move forward meaningful health care reform;
- the defeat of a patient’s bill of rights that would have put medical decisions back in the hands of doctors and their patients instead of insurance company bureaucrats;
- the repeated defeat of Nick’s law that would have required insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of Autism;
- the defeat of two measures that would have brought tougher standards and greater accountability to the insurance industry for arbitrarily raising insurance rates;
- and the defeat of a bill that would have required insurance companies to pay for routine medical costs of Oklahomans seeking treatment for cancer.

“To call Senate Republicans a puppet for the greedy insurance industry would be a huge understatement,” Laster said. “We must not forget several members of the Senate Republican caucus sell insurance for a living, one of which, Cliff Aldridge (R-Midwest City) even voted against a measure that would have outlawed the practice of paying huge bonuses to insurance company employees for cancelling the policies of sick people.”

Further Laster said he is confused why Republicans are suddenly supporting Us Senator Tom Coburn’s health care plan, when just a few short months ago during the legislative session they killed a Democratic amendment that sought to implement the principles of the Coburn plan into an insurance industry reform bill.

“Senate Democrats desperately tried to pass legislation that mirrored the principles of Senator Coburn’s health care plan last session,” Laster said. “Republicans voted unanimously to kill the amendment.”

Laster concluded by offering the following challenge to Senate Republicans.

“If you think public insurance is so bad for the economy, perhaps you should decline the coverage you receive for you and your family being paid for by Oklahoma taxpayers.” The Democratic leader said.

For more information contact:
Sen. Laster: 405-521-5539

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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