Freedom of Choice in Health Care – clears House Rules

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 10-Feb-2010

House Joint Resolution 1054, the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act,” passed the Rules Committee in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday. After lengthy discussion, the measure drew a bipartisan majority on a 14-1 vote.

In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, state Rep. Mike Ritze, a Republican from Broken Arrow said the only opposition to the measure came from state Rep. Richard Morrisette, an Oklahoma City Democrat. “Richard provoked spirited debate and questions, and I appreciate that,” Ritze, a medical doctor, said. In the end, other Democrats on the panel backed the measure.

Much of the debate focused on the clash between federal power and state powers under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution and other provisions. In an interview late Wednesday, Dr. Ritze said, “It was a healthy discussion, with arguments on the meaning of the supremacy clause and other important issues.”

H.J.R. 1054 is similar to legislation filed this year in at least 36 states. If passed by both houses of the Legislature, the constitutional amendment will 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.

Ritze has said, “It’s obvious the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans want the current doctor-patient relationship preserved instead of having Washington bureaucrats dictate medical decisions.”

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