BY SHARON MARTIN
Insuring that every citizen of Oklahoma has access to quality healthcare would take care of several items on Gov. Fallin’s agenda for 2013. Let’s start with her exhortation to keep the “pedal to the metal” concerning business growth.
Oil and gas are boosting Oklahoma’s economy right now. Well, I’m old enough to remember that Oklahoma prospered during the recession of the early ‘80s. When the rest of the country came roaring back, there was a sign at the edge of Cushing that said, “Last one out of town, turn off the lights.”
We are booming. Our boom will be followed by a bust unless we take care of all businesses, including those Mom and Pop operations that employ half or more of all workers in the state.
Car insurance is mandatory in Oklahoma if you own a car. State-owned Workman’s Comp is required if you own a business. Health care for employees just hasn’t been considered as important, until now.
It’s easy to understand business owners’ worries; many of them can’t even afford health insurance for themselves.
What if business owners didn’t have to worry about covering their employees? What if the state didn’t have to cover thousands of state workers, including teachers and policemen and fireman? What if a moderate tax on all of us, healthy and sick, provided adequate coverage for everyone?
Employers of all sizes could concentrate on business.
How pro-business is that!
If every citizen had healthcare coverage, wouldn’t this save a lot of the expenses being paid by the Workers Comp system? How much could we lower premiums paid by employers if we took health care out of the Workers Comp equation?
Gov. Fallin speaks passionately about our state’s prescription drug addiction problem. How many of those addictions started out as health problems and a lack of affordable health care to fix the problems? Addiction itself is a health problem.
Oklahoma ranks 46th in the nation in the health of its citizens. Poverty plays a role in our low ranking. So does citizens’ lack of access to healthy foods. Nutrition and health education would address some issues. So would access to good preventive care.
The Affordable Care Act isn’t the answer to all our problems, but it’s a good place to start. Too bad our governor, with her own state-funded health insurance, sold us out.
It will be the citizens, including small business owners, who will pay for her poor decisions.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer