To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, October 25, 2021

Observercast

Pigeon Droppings

on

If Blue Cross Blue Shield is this bad for OU, why give them even more business with the state?

The simple, sad answer is Gov. Kevin Stitt wants it that way because, frankly he doesn’t care about the end users who are … poor and lower income citizens, mostly women and children, totaling approximately 160,000, who are now eligible for health insurance under the voter approved Medicaid expansion which Stitt himself vigorously opposed.

BCBS was one of four private, non-profit venders selected by him to administer the program. [However, the insurance industry cleared over $35 billion last year and still retains all the benefits of non-profit status, according to the industry’s own reports.]

Currently, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority [OHCA] operates the program and has been recognized for its low overhead, quality of service, statewide coverage and customer satisfaction.

Additionally every medical organization in the state stands against the governor’s scheme and there is widespread opposition for it even among Republicans in the Legislature, as well as unanimous and vocal rejection by all Democrats.

So who is for this turkey? Answer: Gov. Stitt, a bare majority of his own appointees to the state regulatory board and, of course, the four winning contractors, including two based outside of our state.

Readers should also note that $2 billion in contracts were signed just before the 2021 Legislature was assembled and it is now on the dime to come up with the money to make good on the Stitt gambit.

Interestingly, the most ardent and vocal legislalator backing Stitt’s silliness is Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, who will be forced out of the upper body next year by term limits.

Rarely known for informed commentary, David was required by Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-OKC, in early February to publicly apologize to her colleagues for alleging some of them would “personally profit” by keeping the current system of care delivery in place.

When confronted by Leader Treat about making such serious charges that, if proven true, would be felonies, she immediately withdrew her careless comments and suffered the public embarrassment that followed.

In summary here is what is at stake: Probably the largest medical care contracts ever issued by Oklahoma were signed unilaterally by the executive branch, with no guarantee lawmakers would deliver the money. Both the caregivers and recipients of the current services oppose the change. The winning vendors have hired at least a dozen high-dollar lobbyists to help shepherd the scheme through a Legislature now made up mostly of first- and second-term greenhorns just off the farm or the old block. And prior to taking on the monumental responsibility of funding Stitt’s stunt, they need to write an $8 billion budget and probably even more importantly to them personally is to figure out where the nearest bathroom is to their office in the newly remodeled state Capitol building.

First things first, of course … lawmakers then get ready to meet the lobbyists pushing the plan, act like they understand what is being said to them, then accept dinner arrangements with the same crowd. There they will be wined and dined, declare a general comprehension of the deal and, as dessert is delivered, soon also will be a check for their re-election efforts next year.

It’s all so organized, so legal, so routine, so sadly predictable. And usually the only clueless person at the table that night is the pigeon, a brand new lawmaker, who gratefully accepts the check while saying an early good night to his hosts.

Got to get ready to do this again tomorrow evening, with a different bunch on a different topic, as well as another 75 confabs or so more before the last Friday in May.

And the pigeon thinks to himself while driving back to his hotel, this job ain’t so hard after all.

Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.