State Question 756 protests federal health care act
Oklahomans will get the chance to voice their opinion on the federal health care plan this November through State Question 756.
This legislation proposes an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution stating that a person or employer does not have to purchase health care and is not required to participate in a health care system.
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This law will impose a tax against people who do not have health insurance by 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Oklahoma politicians are now protesting the legality of the law, which they think forces people to participate in a business and oversteps the federal government’s authority.
“The federal government has the ability to regulate business across the United States, but it does not have the ability to require purchase of a product,” said Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, primary author of the bill. “This clause is being violated in some minds because if you don’t buy health insurance [the government] is going to tax you. It is forcing someone to buy a product.”
However, a state law cannot override the federal law if the health care act is deemed constitutional, which is mentioned at the bottom of the ballot.
“No state has the authority to selectively ignore federal laws of its choosing, no matter how much some people may dislike them, and any attempt to do so will be ruled unconstitutional by the courts, but not before a costly legal battle,” said Gov. Brad Henry in a previous statement. “I don’t think it makes sense to waste taxpayers’ money on a legal action we know we will lose, particularly during a historical revenue crisis.”
Currently, 20 states are involved in a lawsuit against the federal government for supposedly violating its boundaries. Oklahoma is not involved, but some think enough votes for the question could encourage the state’s participation, said Amanda Teegarden, executive director of Oklahoma for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise.
However, a lawsuit will require taxpayers’ money. Not having the federal plan in Oklahoma also will cost money and jobs due to a lack of revenue, said Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa.
“Let’s not forget the benefit of having half a million people receiving coverage in 2014, and $600 million a year coming into the state,” Adelson said. “That would be significant economic development out there today in the state. This is a multi-billion dollar program that’s going to create over 20,000 jobs.”
If the state does not choose to pursue a lawsuit against the federal government, SQ 756 will not have any power, Adelson said.
The bill may be symbolic but it is a way for Oklahomans to voice their opinion on an important subject. The state and its citizens still have a right to speak out, even if it may not have a direct effect, Newberry said.