How the New Health Care Law will Impact Oklahoma

Since Congress passed a new health care spending law people across Oklahoma and America are expressing grave concerns and confusion about the plan.  They are not alone.  In fact, many members of Congress do not understand the bill they just passed.  Unfortunately, my discussions with state and federal agencies have reinforced my concerns that the consequences of this bill will be severe and harmful for Oklahoma and every other state in the country.  

This plan is the most reckless and irresponsible piece of legislation
Congress has passed in decades.  At a time when we need to be lowering
health care costs and shoring up Medicare and Social Security, Congress
has decided to expand broken and bankrupt programs and create new
burdens for families.  

The bottom line is the typical Oklahoman can expect to pay more for lower quality health care with fewer choices.  Oklahomans can expect the following outcomes:

1)  84,980 Oklahoma seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage will have their benefits reduced by half according to the director of the Congressional Budget Office.

2)  Approximately 750,000 Oklahoma households making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes, based on estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation.  

3)  The youngest Oklahomans could pay 15 to 30 percent more as premiums go up in the individual market.

4)  Oklahoma small businesses employing 50 or more people will pay either higher health care costs or a new penalty because of new government mandates.

5)  About 200,000 adults in Oklahoma will be enrolled in Medicaid because the bill dramatically expands Medicaid eligibility.

6)  The Medicaid expansion will place a severe burden on Oklahoma’s state budget.  The expansion could cost Oklahoma more than $60 million a year once fully implemented, which could force the governor and legislature to raise taxes, raise college tuitions, decrease the quality of education, or all three.

7)  Each Oklahoman will carry the burden of $8,470 in new government spending under the plan.

8)  Every Oklahoman who pays taxes is going to be paying for abortions with their own dollars.  The President’s executive order will not prevent taxpayer-funded abortion, according to the National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

9)  Oklahoma patients and doctors will have less control of treatment decisions.  The new bill gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services and a board of unelected bureaucrats vast new powers to decide the scope of coverage and which services will be reimbursed.  As a result, the government will effectively ration care and shorten life spans as federal bureaucrats overrule doctors.  In my own practice, patients I diagnosed with cancer and other diseases would have died prematurely if my treatment decisions were determined in Washington, D.C rather than my exam room.

10)  The bill’s micromanagement of doctors and reckless expansion of government-run health care will encourage more doctors to retire even as our nation faces a doctor shortage. Our nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Yet, what is even more troubling than the consequences we can predict are the consequences we can’t predict.  When Congress interferes in the market and the sacred-doctor patient relationship, the negative ramifications are far-reaching.  We already see this throughout our health care system.
Medicaid, for instance, allegedly guarantees health care to low-income Americans.  In reality, however, 40 percent of doctors do not treat Medicaid patients so Medicaid patients receive substandard care compared to patients with private insurance.  The Medicaid reimbursement rate for doctors is so low that many doctors would go out of business if they saw every Medicaid patient they could.  Yet, because doctors care about all patients many practices, including my own practice in Oklahoma, provide health care to Medicaid patients even though we often lose money in the process. Medicaid proves that access to a government program is not access to health care. Yet, under the new law, half of all uninsured Americans will be forced into Medicaid.

I’m hopeful many of these dire consequences can be avoided if the American people demand that Congress repeal this foolish and reckless plan.  As long as I’m in the Senate, I’ll use every power available to me to repeal this bill and replace it with a reform plan – such as the Patients’ Choice Act I introduced last year – that will cover more Americans without bankrupting our country or putting the government in charge of health care.