Archive for the ‘insurance’ Category

American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) Commends Paulson’s Proposals

April 3, 2008

From The Hill’s Congress Blog:

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R), president of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), says Treasury Secretary Paulson’s regulatory proposals for life insurers would save consumers $5.7 billion per year.

OK Senate: Progressive Measures Toward Socialized Medicine

February 22, 2008

Brain Tumor Buzz, reports that yesterday a Senate committee passed legislation that would require insurance companies to pay for experimental treatments:

Sen. Andrew Rice, the bill’s author, said it was a matter of fairness. He said Medicaid and Medicare patients can go through clinical trials and still have their routine care compensated.

The bill is called Steffanie’s Law, and according to the Oklahoman:

The legislation is named for Steffanie Collings, a Noble teenager who has been battling a brain tumor.

Monty Collings, her father, said the bill will not help Steffanie or the family, which has amassed more than $400,000 in medical bills that their insurance provider will not cover.

“The sole reason I’m putting so much effort in this is so other families won’t be put through this,” Collings said.

He said his daughter, who will be 19 next month, is in the final stages of her illness. She’s been undergoing care using a new treatment that is part of a clinical trial.

The Hays Daily News quoted Sen. Rice:

“Families in Oklahoma should not have to decide between potential lifesaving treatments and personal financial ruin,” Rice said after Thursday’s vote. “There is little evidence that routine health care costs for clinical trial patients are any higher than costs for patients who are not enrolled in trials.”

He labeled as bogus insurance industry claims that the mandate will raise premiums in Oklahoma.

“Clinical trials that are frequently paid for by drug companies and treatment facilities can actually reduce critical health care costs down the road when they prove successful,” Rice said.

Also in the Senate on Wednesday, the Tulsa World is reporting that the Appropriations Committe passed SB 1709, which would combine the Medical Examiner’s Office with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Together with SB 1689, and SB 1865, the Criminal Justice Resource Center would also be merged into the OSBI, and a new Office of Accountability and Innovation would be set up within the Legislative Service Bureau.

This whole “streamlining” process will cost the Oklahoma taxpayers about a $1,000,000 according to Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee (R-OKC).

NewsOK.com reports that opponents to the new measures have expressed concerns about accountability and integrity issues with having all of these agencies merged into one.

Both bills now go to the full OK Senate.

Protecting Oklahoma’s Women Should Not Be Partisan

March 5, 2007

Last week was the deadline for any Senate bill to be considered and passed by a Senate committee.

The power-sharing agreement brokered between Democrats and Republicans – a result of the historic 24-24 tie in the Senate – has already caused one of its expected results. Fewer bills were approved by Senate committees than at any time in recent memory.

The only bills that survived are those that have bipartisan support, and many did. The parties have worked together remarkably well.

That is not to say that partisanship did not rear its head in the past three weeks. A number of bills were killed on straight, party-line votes. Each committee is made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans and a tie vote kills a bill.

Sometimes, there was good debate illustrating an honest disagreement between the two parties. Other times, it was pure partisanship that killed a bill.

Most troubling were those times when one party locked up against a bill without so much as an explanation. If either one of the parties is going to “lock up” to block vote against a bill, those members owe it to the people of Oklahoma and their colleagues to explain why a bill deserves to fail.

A bill I proposed, one that was suggested to me by one of my constituents, suffered just such a fate. Senate Bill 11 would have ensured that women covered by small group health insurance policies are treated fairly under Oklahoma law.

Under current Oklahoma law, every health insurance policy – no matter how small the group – must cover prostate examinations for men. There is, however, no requirement that obstetrical/gynecological examinations for women be covered by health insurance group policies with 50 or fewer members. My bill would have corrected that inequity.

The bill died in committee on a straight, party-line vote with Democrats voting in favor of the bill and Republicans opposing. There was no debate when the bill came before the committee, and no reason for this to have become a partisan issue. In fact, my House sponsor of the bill was a Republican woman from Lawton.

I simply cannot understand why anyone – regardless of party affiliation – would not enthusiastically support a bill to give a majority of Oklahoma’s population the same protection men have. Census figures indicate women comprise 50.6 percent of Oklahoma’s population.

Ensuring state law is fair to a majority of our population should not be a partisan issue. We have the responsibility to do the right thing; sadly, Republicans on the Senate Retirement & Insurance Committee did not agree.

Despite that setback, I will continue my efforts to protect Oklahoma’s women. The time will come when not even partisanship can kill a good idea.