Comm. Doak testifies at U.S. Senate hearing

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak

Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak will testify today before a U.S. Senate committee addressing skyrocketing premiums on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges.

“Obamacare has been disastrous in Oklahoma,” said Doak. “We’ve seen jaw-dropping spikes in premiums, narrowing networks, rising deductibles and general market instability. Basically, all our worst fears have come true. The time has come to give states more flexibility to offer consumers a better option. I look forward to discussing possible solutions with federal lawmakers.”   

Today’s hearings are the first of four bipartisan hearings the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee has planned. The goal is to address the actions Congress should take to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market.

Oklahoma has one insurer offering individual plans on the ACA exchange in 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma. Its initial rate filing requested an average increase of 8.3 percent. Approximately 129,000 Oklahomans enrolled in ACA exchange plans for 2017.

Insurance commissioners from Washington, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Alaska are also scheduled to testify. The HELP committee will hear from several governors on Thursday. Health care stakeholders representing doctors, hospitals, insurers and patients will testify next week.

Commissioner Doak has been encouraged by recent proposals from U.S Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy to provide block grant funding to states and allow them to implement health insurance solutions tailored to fit each state’s needs. Doak said this type of long-term flexibility is crucial to our health insurance markets.

“Oklahomans should be in charge of healthcare and health insurance in Oklahoma with very few Washington strings attached. Republicans and Democrats must work together to give power back to each state governor and Legislature.”

The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state. A live stream of the hearing can be seen here beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST/9:00 a.m. CST. Commissioner Doak is scheduled to testify first.

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