Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Twelve U.S. Senators and 61 members of the U.S. House have written every governor in America, including Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, asking the state chief executives to oppose implementation of health care exchanges under the controversial Affordable Care Act. The new developments unfolded as turmoil continued to surround what might be the most contentious judicial decision in the modern era.
Meanwhile, grass roots activists in Oklahoma are organizing a rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol for Saturday, July 7.
Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Muskogee joined several colleagues in signing the letter. Leading the charge to gather signatures on the missive was U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. [Editor’s Note: Also among original House signatories of the letter was James Lankford of Oklahoma City.]
Grass roots activists have planned a rally to oppose implementation of the health care law. A recently organized group known as “The Oklahoma Tenth Amendment Center” is slated a “Rally for Healthcare Independence” on the south steps of the Oklahoma state Capitol, 9 to 11 a.m. on July 7.
Organizers of the rally sent CapitolBeatOK a draft statement contending, “Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists the seventeen powers specifically enumerated to the Federal Government. Health care is NOT an enumerated power. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states, ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’
“Thus, any health care policy must be left to states to enact at the behest of their citizens - if they so choose. America's Founders instituted government to protect the liberties of individual Americans. In fact, the majority believed that power could not emanate from a central government, that it must be dispersed among states, in order to protect the states and maximize the freedom of the individual.”
The activists are stressing that Oklahoma voters gave overwhelming support to State Question 756 (The Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment), a state constitutional measure prohibiting the use of government compulsion to force a person to join a health care system.
Dr. Mike Ritze, one of two physicians serving in the Oklahoma Legislature, was a leading advocate of the constitutional measure. S.Q. 756 passed with 638,455 yes votes (64.73% of the votes cast), with 347,908 (35.27%) opposed.
Other states that have not moved on the exchange issue are Louisiana, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In their letter, the members of Congress predicted the exchanges in “ObamaCare” could cost businesses up to $3,000 per employee.
DeMint commented, “Now that we know the courts will not save us from this harmful and unsustainable law, we urge all governors to join our fight full repeal by stopping its implementation.
"Americans have loudly rejected this law because it raises costs, lowers quality of care, and hikes taxes. The President’s health care law will not reform anything, but will hurt state budgets, destroy jobs, and reduce patient choices. States should reject these complex and costly exchanges. We cannot build a free market health care system on this flawed structure of centralized government control, we must repeal all of it and start over with commonsense solutions that make health care more affordable and accessible for every American."
Senators signing the letter to American governors included Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
U.S. House members on the anti-exchange letter included Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Ron Paul of Texas, Joe Walsh of Illinois, Pete Olson of Texas, Sandy Adams of Florida, Steve King of Iowa, Annamarie Buerke of New York, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
Rep. Bachmann said, in comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, “While Republicans in Congress will continue to push for a full repeal of Obamacare, the states can take immediate action to reject these exchanges that will increase health care costs and add more layers of bureaucratic red tape. I encourage all 50 governors to do what’s best for the American people. They should refuse to implement an exchange and instead work towards common sense solutions that lower costs and return important health care decisions to patients and their doctors.”
Rep. Jordan commented, “The harmful impact on jobs is just one of many reasons we remain committed to fully repealing this law. If governors want to raise the cost of hiring people in their states, they should create an Obamacare exchange. If they want more jobs in their state, they should not. It’s that simple.”
Last week after the nation’s High Court upheld the federal law in a closely divided 5-4 decision, Governor Fallin told reporters, including CapitolBeatOK, she did not plan to call a special session to deal with the decision’s impact on our state. She added a special session “is always a possibility.”
Fallin estimated it would cost Oklahoma a half-billion to implement the measure. Fallin said she and her staff would have to continue studying the law – including the Medicaid mandate that was stricken by a 7-2 majority in the mixed ruling – to determine its likely or potential impact on state policy.
The full text of the congressional letter to Mary Fallin and other American governors is posted below:
The Supreme Court has ruled significant parts of the Medicaid expansion of the President’s health care law unconstitutional as well as ruling that the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause and will therefore be implemented as a punitive tax on the middle class. This presents us with a critical choice: Do we allow this reprehensible law to move forward or do we fully repeal it and start over with commonsense solutions? The American people have made it clear that they want us to throw this law out in its entirety.
As members of the U.S. Congress, we are dedicated to the full repeal of this government takeover of healthcare and we ask you to join us to oppose its implementation.
Most importantly, we encourage you to oppose any creation of a state health care exchange mandated under the President’s discredited health care law.
These expensive, complex, and intrusive exchanges impose a threat to the financial stability of our already-fragile state economies with no certainty of a limit to total enrollment numbers. Resisting the implementation of exchanges is good for hiring and investment. The law’s employer mandate assesses penalties – up to $3,000 per employee - only to businesses who don’t satisfy federally-approved health insurance standards and whose employees receive “premium assistance” through the exchanges. The clear language of the statute only permits federal premium assistance to citizens of states who create a state-based exchange.
However, the IRS recently finalized a regulation that contradicts the law by allowing the federal government to provide premium assistance to citizens in those states that have not created exchanges. The IRS had no authority to finalize such a regulation. By refusing to create an exchange, you will assist us in Congress to repeal this violation which will help lower the costs of doing business in your state, relative to other states that keep these financially draining exchanges in place.
State-run exchanges are subject to all of the same coverage mandates and rules as the federally-run exchange. Clearing the hurdles of crafting an exchange that complies with the 600 plus pages of federal exchange regulations will only result in wasted state resources and higher premiums for your constituents.
Implementation of this law is not inevitable and without the unconstitutional individual mandate it is improbable. Join us in resisting a centralized government approach to health care reform and instead focus on solutions that make health care more affordable and accessible for every American. Let’s work to create a health care system of, for, and by the people, not government or special interests.
Sincerely, [signed by 12 U.S. Senators and 61 U.S. Representatives
Editor’s Note: For the historical record, signatories from the U.S. House included:
Reps. Bachmann, Jordan, Paul, Roe, Wilson, Duncan, Akin, Hensarling, Garrett, Mulvaney, Walsh, Walberg, Stearns, Ross, Gowdy, Emerson, Franks, Buchson, Rokita, Broun, Boustany, Huelskamp, Scalise, Amash, Olson, Canseco, Price, Blackburn, King (IA), Adams, DesJarlais, Landry, Gingrey, Lankford, Miller (FL), Guthrie, Manzullo, Bono Mack, Ellmers, Pitts, Benishek, Calvert, McClintock, Jenkins, Gohmert, Flores, Bilbray, Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Buerkle, Denham, Lungren, Harris, West, Long, Westmoreland, Fleischmann, Aderholt, Poe, Labrador, Neugebauer, Pompeo.
The full list of U.S. Senators included: Sens. DeMint, Lee, Johnson (WI), Coburn, Graham, Vitter, Paul, Cornyn, Sessions, Rubio, Toomey and Shelby. A copy of the signed letter can be viewed at this link from Rep. Bachmann.