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Letters to the Editor

Playing snow day roulette

Todd Fagin July 18th, 2012

Many a student has undoubtedly played a game of “snow day roulette” in which the student opts to postpone completing homework under the hope inclement weather will result in a school closing. If the forecast is wrong or the school otherwise remains open, the student is often in quite a predicament.

It seems our Republican “leadership” has opted for a similar strategy regarding the establishment of a health care exchange. Rather than taking federal funds to establish the exchange, the governor, under right-wing pressure and the hope that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike down the entire law, rejected the funds. This risky move did not pay off for our state.

Now, the same “leadership” is placing its bets on a repeal of the law following the November election.

This, too, is an irresponsible, risky gamble.

Even if Republicans gain control of the White House, the Senate and the House, striking down the law will be no easy feat. While the mandate may be struck down through the reconciliation process, large portions of the law have nothing to do with direct spending or tax law, and therefore, will be subject to a Democrat filibuster. The state’s failure to establish an exchange will result in exactly what these individuals supposedly fear: federal control of the exchange.

One aspect of the court ruling sure to please these ideologues has made it easier for states like Oklahoma to opt out of the expansion of Medicaid. I fear that our governor and legislators, driven by rightwing dogma rather than by empathy and compassion for the indigent, will reject this expansion, thereby denying coverage to an estimated 250,000 Oklahomans. This would be an outrage.

Ultimately, we have gotten a modest, primarily market-based insurance reform law, one once promoted by everyone from the conservative Heritage Foundation to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Rather than being the bipartisan bill Romney claimed it could be, it became an ultrapartisan bill shrouded in hyperbolic vitriol and outright disinformation by those who wished nothing more than to see the president fail.

It’s time for our state’s “leadership” to put this ultra-partisanship aside, stop playing their version of “snow day roulette,” and do their job: Establish the exchange and expand Medicaid, thereby working toward affordable health coverage for all Oklahomans. As Romney rightly insinuated in 2009, health care is too important to [Oklahoma’s] economy and families to be at the whim at such partisan grandstanding.

—Todd Fagin, Oklahoma City

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