The Pryor Times

February 22, 2013

ObamaCare: Final word

State Representative House District 5
Doug Cox State Representative House District 5

— Recently you may have received an automated phone call telling you that I supported ObamaCare and to “push number one to be connected to Rep. Cox’s office.” I do not know where the phone calls came from, I do not know who paid for the phone calls and frankly, I don’t care. However, let me set the record straight.

I did not support ObamaCare [technically known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)] because:

a. It does not do anything to significantly hold down costs.

b. By increasing the number of “paper-pushers” (people who never see or touch a patient) in the system it may actually increase the cost of healthcare.

c. It’s hard to swallow the feds telling us we have to do something or pay a penalty. It kind of takes away our freedom of choice.

That being said, to be truthful there are a couple of things I like about the PPACA:

a. You can keep your kids on your insurance while they are in college.

b. You cannot be denied insurability due to a pre-existing condition.

Now, let’s look at some other facts:

a. Even though I fought against ObamaCare, I lost and it is now the law of the land.

b. I voted for the presidential candidate that said he would repeal a large portion of ObamaCare. That candidate lost the election.

c. Federal law supersedes state law according to the U.S. Constitution, which I hold in high esteem and my oath of office stated I would uphold.

In other words, whether we like it or not, ObamaCare is now the law. My job is to see that we work the best we can within its framework for the betterment of Oklahomans. To that end, I do support the option of expanding Medicaid that the new law gives us (I suspect that is where the idea that I support ObamaCare came from). Expanding Medicaid would give Oklahoma adults who make 133 percent of the poverty level ($32,000 for a family of four) SoonerCare insurance. Approximately 150,000-180,000 Oklahomans are in this category. Here are the reasons why I think Medicaid expansion is the best track for Oklahoma:

a. Oklahomans will continue to pay the taxes, fees, and penalties associated with ObamaCare. If we do not expand the program in our state, our money will go to help the citizens in other states. I prefer to use our tax dollars to help our citizens.

b. Presently hospitals get extra payment from the feds to cover their cost of providing care to the indigent. These payments are going to decrease because the feds assume we are going to expand Medicaid resulting in fewer indigent cases. If we do not expand Medicaid we will not recoup the lost dollars and some rural hospitals (most of which are one of the top three employers in their community) may close.

c. The cost in state dollars for expanding Medicaid for 2014, 2015 and 2016 is zero. After that it gradually increases to a maximum of 10 percent state share by 2020 (estimated at approximately $50 million). The Supreme Court ruling makes it very clear that if the program becomes too expensive, then we can drop out. Therefore, what have we got to lose at this point?  Now I realize that taking federal dollars for any program is controversial at this time with our nation deep in debt. Again, these are OUR dollars coming back to Oklahoma for healthcare just as our federal dollars come back here for schools, roads and bridges, drought relief and storm damage. I think our federal dollars are better spent coming back to Oklahoma to take care of Oklahomans than they are being given to countries like Egypt, Pakistan and others who hate us.

 In closing, let me repeat that while in spite of what the recorded phone calls told you, I did not support ObamaCare. But it is here, and I am just trying to do the best I can for Oklahoma with a system that has been forced upon us.

As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write or call on this subject. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your State representative. I can be reached at dougcox@okhouse.gov or (405) 557-7415.