OUR VIEW: Don't fall to fear — vote 'no' on SQ 756
It’s important that Oklahomans know what’s at stake concerning State Question 756, which will be among 10 others on Tuesday’s ballot.
SQ 756 would add a new section to Oklahoma’s constitution that “prohibits” making persons, employers or health care providers participate in a “health care system.”
It’s a response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — which mandates that U.S. citizens who can afford health insurance must purchase it by 2014 — that President Barack Obama signed into law March 23. However, it’s unclear what the state question will accomplish.
If you dislike the health care bill, SQ 756 probably won’t be an immediate cure. The ballot language concedes that federal law is the supreme law of the land, which seems to imply it could do nothing to fight the health care law.
“This measure will hopefully bring about a court case that we need to have,” said the primary author of the state question, Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Oklahoma City, according to a March 25 article on NewsOK.com.
If that’s the goal, then Oklahoma could join 20 other states that have filed suits against the federal health care law, claiming it’s unconstitutional.
With lawsuits comes money, and the questions voters should answer when they reach the polls Tuesday is whether it will be worth their time and taxpayer money, in the midst of a budget crisis, to challenge a law that other states are already fighting, and which most legal experts say the federal government is well within its right to enforce.
Voters should also realize that they have elected leaders who have voiced their opposition to the health care bill. Every U.S. House and Senate representative from Oklahoma has pledged to fight it; isn’t that good enough?
Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole, dismantles the idea that the law is unconstitutional in his Aug. 23 guest blog on the OK Policy Institute website.
Kiesel, who leads the Oklahoma Lawyer chapter of the American Constitution Society, points out that Congress has the “authority to regulate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce” under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Health care has an enormous impact on interstate commerce. “In 2007, health care expenditures amounted to $2.2 trillion, or $7,421 per person, and accounted for 16.2 percent of the gross domestic product,” according to Erwin Chemerinsky, constitutional law professor and dean of the University of California Irvine Law School, in an October 2009 column on Politico.
Thus, Kiesel writes, “it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prevail on the argument that health care does not meet or exceed the ‘substantial effect’ test the Court has consistently applied.”
And if it does, Kiesel points out the Supreme Court would also have to reconsider the legality of such laws as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Americans with Disabilities Act — laws passed under Congress’ interpretation of the commerce clause.
Moreover, Oklahomans should realize that the health care law will reduce the deficit by $143 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, expand affordable coverage and even save Oklahoma money.
The Oklahoma Healthcare Authority estimated an additional 250,000 Oklahomans would receive coverage under the law by 2014, and it would save $500 million spent on patients who don’t have insurance, according to an April 9 article on NewsOK.com. Currently, about 494,000 Oklahomans are uninsured, according to the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority.
The Affordable Care Act is the most effective health care legislation passed to date, which succeeds in providing affordable coverage to more citizens while maintaining the private, for-profit health insurance industry.
The law also repeals some aspects of the health care industry that are simply immoral.
Already, insurance companies are no longer allowed to cut customers when they get sick and children are no longer being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. This measure will apply to adults in 2014.
Don’t let the ideological fear mongering sway you to vote for a questionable opt-out measure that, at best, will probably do nothing, and at worst, will cost you money. Vote “no” on SQ 756.