Despite ‘spike’ concerns, Ritze ‘optimistic’ for health choice bill

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: Feb. 02, 2010

House Joint Resolution 1054, introduced by state Rep. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow, is scheduled for a hearing before the House Rules Committee Wednesday afternoon (February 3). However, today (Tuesday, Feb. 2) multiple sources requesting anonymity told CapitolBeatOK the measure could be stricken from the committee’s docket.
Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Ritze, a medical doctor, told CapitolBeatOK he is “optimistic the bill will be heard before the committee when it meets at 3 p.m.” The proposal is tagged the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.” It is similar to legislation filed this year in at least 36 states. If passed by both houses of the Legislature, the constitutional amendment would be submitted to a statewide popular vote. 

The measure is designed to preserve “current access to health care,” Ritze said, and it is based on model legislation advocated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

In conjunction with measures under consideration in the nation’s capital and a majority of the states, the measure would help create a shield against possible federal requirements for individuals to purchase health insurance under fine or penalty. The ALEC-promoted push, modeled on Arizona legislation, has begun to attract national news media attention. Within the past month, progress on similar bills has been made in Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Idaho, and Pennsylvania, according to an ALEC summary distributed this week.

In a statement released Tuesday, Rep. Ritze said, “It’s obvious the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans want the current doctor-patient relationship preserved instead of having Washington bureaucrats dictate medical decisions and I am pleased this legislation has been endorsed by politically active citizens.”

The measure gained momentum early this week when it gained the support of members of the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance, a coalition of groups including Sooner Tea Party,, the 912 Project, the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, Tulsa Town Hall, Tulsa 912 Project, Oklahoma City 912 Project, ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education), Oklahoma Tenth Amendment Center, Remember The Bailout, and others.

Ritze’s co-sponsor is state Rep. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City.