Area residents concerned about penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act gathered Saturday to hear several speakers, including Oklahoma Insurance Commission John Doak and Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, during the Stop Obamacare Penalties Now rally.
The event, held at the Armory Municipal Center, was attended by about a dozen citizens, including several children. It was one of 12 meetings held across the state in the run-up to Monday’s opening of the 2014 Oklahoma legislative session.
“We’re here today to learn about legislation that will be introduced this session to stop federal over-reach, or what we call Obamacare,” said Michael Stopp, local event coordinator.
According to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans are now required to purchase health care insurance, or face a penalty on their federal taxes in 2014. Sponsors of Saturday’s rally and others across the state believe such a requirement stands against the principles of liberty.
Doak told the audience he may be a regulator, as he oversees the business of insurance in Oklahoma, but he’s a regulator “with an opinion.”
“As far as I’ve seen, Obamacare is a disaster from an insurance commissioner’s perspective,” said Doak. “I’ve dealt with it for three years, and it’s not in the best interest of Oklahomans. It limits free-market competition. A single-payer system is where [President Barack Obama] wants to take us.”
Doak said he works very closely with insurance companies across the state, and very few residents – fewer than 14,000 so far – have signed up for insurance through the federal government’s website.
“It’s not working out,” said Doak. “You can’t keep your doctor, you can’t keep your existing plan. We continue to look at the law, and we’re following [Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s] case [against ACA] very closely.”
Doak believes Oklahoma can come up with its own health care plan and work with neighboring states via compact to better provide citizens with health care insurance.
“Free market principles work best,” said Doak. “We have to continue this fight against intrusion. Your opinion matters to me and we’re working on your behalf.”
Doak believes faith-based entities can be an answer.
“Now this is not insurance and I don’t regulate it, but I believe it works,” said Doak. “The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, started by Dr. Keith Smith, has an element of self-funding and faith-based cost sharing entities, and it’s creating a competitive market and offers surgeries and far-reduced costs. It even posts the prices for its surgeries right on its website.”
Dahm told attendees that passing legislation to nullify the ACA in the Senate proved difficult last session.
“The House passed several bills, including the Obamacare nullification bill, but these things then get sent to the Senate, and rarely get a hearing, and that’s the way the game is played,” said Dahm. “The problem is we have some very powerful, big corporate interests out there, and senators believe if they pass anything pro-life, pro-gun or anti-Obama, we’ll end up looking like a bunch of backward hillbillies. These interests have the power and the influence, and they exercise it.”
Dahm said the people have the same power, and it takes very few – possibly as few as half a dozen – people showing up in Oklahoma City, asking to speak to their elected officials, to make a change.
“Phone calls are good, hand-written letters are good, but a physical appearance is best,” said Dahm. “Legislators know that for every single person who shows up, there are 100 behind them.”
Dahm invited Saturday’s rally participants to attend a Stop Obamacare Now rally in Oklahoma City at the state capitol slated for noon, Tuesday, Feb. 4.