Here are some excerpts from recent posts:
The Oklahoman continues its relentless opposition to health care reform with inane analogies, GOP talking points and glaring omissions.
Here’s a recent ditty from an August 28 editorial titled “Shot clock: Time running out on reform schemes”:
Another prevailing view is that health care would be cheaper if the profit motive were removed. No doubt, toilet paper might be cheaper if for-profit companies didn’t produce it. But who then would make it?
This obvious false analogy might even be funny in a sort of aw shucks country humor way—comparing health care with toilet paper manufacturing is as ludicrous and inane as it gets—but it’s really quite tragic the state’s largest newspaper will not participate in any real debate about an important issue.
The editorial was an overall snarky criticism of local Democratic Party members, who recently held a press conference to push for health care reform.
The commentary failed to provide any basic facts about the number of uninsured Oklahomans and the rising cost of health insurance and care. According to a Health and Human Services report, 19 percent of Oklahomans do not have health insurance. The same report shows that health insurance premiums have risen a staggering 77 percent since 2000. I have written about the telling facts of Oklahoma’s struggling medical systems here and here.
Toilet Paper Arguments, August 28, 2009
If the state wants to further diversify its economy, its leaders—Democratic and Republican alike—must accept and promote diversity.
Sounds obvious, right? But it bears repeating in light of declining state revenues directly related to natural gas production taxes. The state’s budget is tied heavily to its energy sector, and when gas prices fall and supplies increase, revenues can decline at a rapid rate. This is what has been happening recently, forcing budget cuts.
According to the OK Policy Blog:
The continued weakness of natural gas prices and production is the most important factor accounting for Oklahoma’s disappointing revenue collections. July collections from natural gas production to the General Revenue Fund (GRF) totaled just $22.2 million in July - a 75 percent decline from revenues for the same month a year ago, and $42.1 million less than the estimate certified in February by the State Board of Equalization. More than half of the total revenue shortfall in the GRF can be attributed directly to falling revenues from the gross production tax on gas.
The blog, which is part of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, points out that budget problems will persist without an increase in revenue from natural gas production taxes. It also wisely calls for “serious budget reform ideas” to put gas tax money in savings to be used when prices drop.
Economic Diversity, September 6, 2009.
Does anyone in Oklahoma or elsewhere really think health care and insurance costs will be contained without some type of major reform?
This is an important question that deserves debate, especially given the fact the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board has voted to raise medical co-payments for state teachers and employees.
Under the new plan, which goes into effect Jan. 1, teachers, state workers and retirees under HealthChoice will face $50 co-payments for doctors’ visits. Prescription drug co-payments will go up to $30 from $25 for less expensive drugs and from $50 to $60 for more expensive ones.
Insurance costs will also rise 7.6 percent for schools districts and state departments.
Here’s the announcement about the increases. Here’s a Tulsa World story about the issue.
How far will co-payments go up in the future within the Health Choice plan or in any given insurance plan? It’s not difficult to imagine standard $100 co-payments to see a doctor in a few years without major reform. It’s also not difficult to imagine standard $2000 or even $3000 deductibles in the future. This would essentially cut many “insured” working people out of basic medical care unless they have high incomes or use Medicare or Medicaid.
Teachers, State Workers Face Health Care Cost Increases, September 13, 2009
I have to agree with former President Jimmy Carter that racism is fueling much of the irrational hostility faced by President Barack Obama these days.
Here’s Carter on the issue:
I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that share the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans."
And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.
This is an important issue here in Oklahoma, which is the de facto headquarters of everything anti-Obama. Not a single county in Oklahoma gave him a majority during the 2008 election, and polls show he remains deeply unpopular here. Why? What does this say about the state? What has Obama specifically done to earn the extreme wrath of Oklahomans?
Audacious Animosity, September 17, 2009