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Opinion

November 13, 2013

Work together instead of fighting over semantics

DUNCAN — He was so tired of the words “stop”, “defund” and “regurgitate” that ex-congressman Ron Paul created a replacement word, “nullification” - to continue his ineffectual attacks on the Affordable Care Act. We hear from talk show to talk show that “they” have a plan for controlling the cost of health care. The problem with that rhetoric is that “their” plan is what got us into trouble in the first place. Lack of regulations - Republicans proposing deregulation to allow insurance companies to sell policies over state lines — is one leg of the rise in premiums. Another is the lax control that some states maintain over the insurance companies. By comparison, why are we criticizing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

Starting with the known fact that Public Law 111-148 is not perfect, what law passed by national or state legislators is? We can only guess at the millions of dollars Oklahoma has spent defending some of its laws passed by its legislators in the past four years instead of working with national legislators to FIX the “glitches“ in the ACA. The “glitches” don’t come close to the destructiveness of a majority of the bills Oklahoma’s legislators passed pertaining to personhood, abortion, discriminatory voting requirements, taxing the middle class more and the wealthy less, etc.

What the executive and legislative bodies in Oklahoma and other states know — but hide — is the fact that states, operating with 3-pronged, conservatively controlled-run governments, refused to set up State Insurance Marketplaces, thus overloading the Federal Marketplace. Although, some state legislators were intelligent enough to accept the federal monies to implement an Expanded Medicaid Program to cover individuals, that still did not fully satisfy the requirements of the Marketplace guidelines.

The small percentage of people who have said their health insurance premiums have risen under the Affordable Care Act do not tell you what their present policy covers. If you are female, it does not cover pregnancy, free yearly mammograms, yearly gynecological exams and yearly general health checkups. For males, you have an insurance policy that does not cover prostate exams or yearly health checkups. In addition, if one of the above health conditions happens to be a pre-existing one, that condition is specified as “not covered” in your policy. Students, part-time workers and/or out-of-work people under the age of 26 may now stay on their parent’s health plan until age 26 or they can afford their own insurance.

The Society of Actuaries works for the insurance companies and is the one that justified the 30%-50% yearly increases in health insurance premiums during the past four years. That can no longer happen without a Congressional change to the current ACA law. At an ongoing rate of 30%-50% per annum, by 2017 premiums would be 200% higher - not 32% higher - as quoted on last week’s newspaper “Opinion” page. Instead, from now on, the ACA allows a maximum premium increase of 10% yearly, which negates our President’s “situational ethics” as quoted. The Society’s report to Congress also pointed out the need for the Marketplace to continue operations and for the Expansion of Medicaid.

Another benefit from the ACA — not widely publicized — are the checks you received from your insurance companies earlier this year. Because of the 80%-20% requirement, 80% of your policy fees must now be spent on health services with 20% used for administration and stock dividends. If your insurer did not spend 80% on health services, it had to refund the percentage difference to you instead of disbursing multi-million dollar bonuses to its company officers.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently publicized the following information: Consumer Reports has a new online-tool to assist when determining one’s options for insurance. Healthcare Law Helper is available at www.HealthCareLawHelper.org and in Spanish at www.AsequraTuSalud.org.

We need to work together, not fight over semantics.

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Opinion
  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014