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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2013

Sen. Constance N. Johnson
Sen. Constance N. Johnson

Sen. Johnson asks for balance in Affordable Care Act considerations

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved Senate Joint Resolution 8 memorializing the President, Vice President and Congress to eliminate or reform specified aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The resolution passed along party lines with the only dissenting votes coming from two of the committee’s democrat members – Senator Constance N. Johnson and Senator Al McAffrey.

Sen. Johnson said she hopes her colleagues will begin to also focus on the positive benefits of the health plan, in addition to speculation about costs, in order to arrive at consensus about the human aspects of health care.

“It is important that we also consider the long term beneficial aspects that come from providing healthcare to every man, woman and child in our state,” said Johnson, D-Oklahoma County. “Oklahoma’s health rankings have continually declined in recent years, in large part due to the fact that one in six Oklahomans, about 636,000, is uninsured and does not have access to affordable healthcare. The Affordable Care Act represents an opportunity for all Oklahomans to share in the quest for health and wellness for all. Presently, only a few are bearing the brunt of health care costs via continually increasing insurance premiums to make up for the uncompensated care of the uninsured. This is ultimately something that will be good for all citizens, and small and large businesses.”

Johnson pointed out that according to premium cost statistics provided by the Oklahoma Insurance Department from the Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, worker contributions for family coverage increased 147 percent between 2000 and 2010, and citizens saw an average overall 114 percent increase in premiums. SJR 8 raises concern that small businesses and consumers could potentially face a 2 – 2.5 percent increase in insurance premiums by 2016, and as much as a 3.7 percent increase ten years from now, by 2023.

“There were no expressions of concern about a more than 100 percent insurance premium increase between 2000 and 2010. It’s interesting that this resolution expresses such grave concern about less than a four percent increase in premiums over the next ten years,” stated Johnson. “Instead of only focusing on potential cost increases based on speculation, we must also focus on and look at the tremendous benefits that all citizens will get having access to healthcare, something that ultimately speaks to the benefit of our entire state. Business owners will have healthier workers and, thus, see increased worker productivity and production, which will mean higher revenues for their businesses. The Affordable Care Act will also mean an infusion of more as well as higher paying health care related jobs. We really need to take a closer look at the bigger picture in terms of how the health and well-being of all Oklahomans will fare.”

After the Insurance Department’s vastly higher 2000-2010 figures were brought to the attention of the committee, Sen. Rick Brinkley, who was chairing the committee meeting, asked that the estimated insurance premium increases in the bill be clarified before the resolution is brought before the full Senate.

“Healthcare is a right, and Oklahoma has already paid a high price in senselessly lost lives due to a lack of proper and timely healthcare access and treatment. Businesses continue to suffer low productivity because of the poor health of workers who often don’t have insurance to cover healthcare costs,” said Johnson. “This is very much a humane issue in which we have a duty to be accountable to our fellow man. Everyone deserves access to basic healthcare. After all, are we not our brother’s and sister’s keepers? Oklahoma has a rare opportunity to provide for our citizens by ensuring that our federal tax dollars come back to us instead of going to other states due to a temporary lack of vision and forward thinking on our part.”

For more information contact:
Sen. Johnson: (405) 521-5531

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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