By Brian Renegar
Oklahoma Representative – McAlester
If a role of government is creating a business friendly environment, government should also be involved in bringing health care to workers, said Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester.
A lot of conversation here at the capitol focuses on what will bring new business to the state. We passed worker’s compensation reform this year and tort reform in the past on the premise that it will help make Oklahoma more business friendly. Obviously, we think government has a role in creating a climate conducive for new businesses to relocate here and keeping current businesses happy.
Consequently, Speaker T.W. Shannon’s position that government should have no role in subsidizing health care goes against the best interests of small businesses and does nothing to help draw new industries to our state.
As a small business owner who provides health insurance to my employees through Insure Oklahoma, the Speaker’s position that government has no role in health care is absurd.
Two of my employees have insurance for the first time because I can provide it for them through a government-subsidized program.
If you can cover your family with health insurance, you know the financial security it provides. And if you can’t, you know the stress it causes. As an employer, it helps me sleep at night knowing I can help my employees with health care because they help me with their work every day.
Thousands of Oklahomans receive their health care through government-subsidized health insurance: Tricare for our military families, Medicare for our seniors, SoonerCare for our low-income families, and the health care services offered through the Indian tribes in our state.
The Speaker jeopardized the well-being of thousands of Oklahomans through his opposition to Insure Oklahoma. It shows his lack of business acumen by opposing government-subsidized health care because one of the best things we can do to bring new business to our state is to make it easier for businesses to provide health insurance for their employees.
The 4,500 small businesses who participate in Insure Oklahoma depend on him and other Republicans in our state changing their minds about offering our fellow Oklahomans the option of government-subsidized health care.
Let’s not forget it was President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, who passed the law requiring emergency rooms to care for anyone who needed it, regardless of their ability to pay for services. If Reagan thought it was a role of government to intervene in health care, surely Speaker Shannon does, too.