Oct. 10--Panelists at a Tulsa County GOP event Wednesday discussed ways Oklahoma and its citizens can resist the Affordable Care Act's requirements, including the possibility of passing a "nullification law" and refusing to pay fines for failure to carry insurance.
One panelist at the event called President Barack Obama's administration an "oligarchy" and "an undercover dictatorship." Another panelist claimed that the federal health-care law allows federal officials to inspect the homes of people who home school their children and to share citizens' medical records.
State Rep. Michael Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, said a bill allowing the state to nullify the federal law could be revived in the next legislative session.
"Nullification is a proper way that our founders gave us to look at it. ... We got it through the House to completely nullify the whole law. We'll bring it back."
Ritze, a physician, joined three other panelists Wednesday during a luncheon sponsored by the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club. He said the federal law "can be turned around completely" by executive order.
The Affordable Care Act was signed by Obama three years ago and has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It requires Americans to have medical insurance or pay a fine unless they fall into an excluded category.
Enrollment in insurance plans offered under the law began last week. People who have health insurance through their employers or government programs such as Medicare do not need to take any action because they already have insurance.
Joining Ritze on the panel were Jonathan Small, fiscal policy director for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs; Amanda Teegarden, executive director of OK-SAFE; and Toby Pedford, executive director of Oklahoma's Campaign for Liberty.
Small said his organization is focused on making people aware of the costs if Oklahoma were to expand its Medicaid program.
Gov. Mary Fallin rejected an expansion of the Medicaid program that accompanied the federal health-care law. While there has been no indication that Fallin would change her mind, the group on Wednesday urged citizens to call her office and state lawmakers to say they oppose the Medicaid expansion.
A state-commissioned study known as the Leavitt report found that the direct cost to Oklahoma to expand Medicaid would be about $850 million. However, when savings and economic impact from the expansion are included, the net impact is a savings of $464 million, the report concluded.
Small, a certified public accountant who once worked for the Oklahoma Insurance Department, contends that the report is not correct.
"Government is notorious with missing the mark on estimates of entitlement programs," he said.
Small said the Internal Revenue Service is prohibited from using liens and garnishments to force people to pay a fine if they don't have health insurance.
"The IRS doesn't even have a mechanism to enforce it," he said. "So I encourage you to get a responsible tax preparer and have them help you determine your withholdings. That way you never have a refund at the end of the year, and you won't ever have to worry about paying the penalty."
Pedford, a former board member of the Oklahoma City Tea Party, said the Affordable Care Act gives the federal government "control over almost who lives and who dies."
"What has really been formed is an undercover dictatorship," said Pedford, who runs a company that provides financial and insurance advice to clients.
"I really shouldn't say the administration -- I should say the oligarchy is really what we're dealing with," Pedford said. "What I feel like I want to contribute to the panel today is ... what are the things that people are able to do to fight back and also stay out of jail."
Teegarden compared the law to past examples of the government's use of technology to gather and consolidate citizens' private information. Recent efforts to expand telemedicine and Internet access in rural areas are included in this effort, she said.
"That is why we were adamantly opposed to the state establishing the (health-insurance) exchange in the state of Oklahoma," Teegarden said.
Fallin initially accepted and then rejected a $54 million grant to create a health-insurance exchange in Oklahoma as called for by the Affordable Care Act. An exchange is a website where consumers can compare insurance plans.
As far as resisting the law's requirements, Teegarden said: "There are things that we can still do. It's not wonderful. There are other things that you can do that I will talk to you about later when the camera's not rolling."
Ritze said the law revives data-gathering that he and others fought to prevent in the past. He said the law will mean "your medical records are not private anymore so some lady in Brazil can look at your medical records and steal your identity."
"They are going to put in a computer chip in all of your bank records, your health records, security records. ... We outlawed that. That's back in the law. So they can come to you and ask you anything they want and get away with it."
The federal agency that operates the program, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, states on its website that it will safeguard information provided by citizens and comply with the 1974 U.S. Privacy Act.
(c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headlines: Tulsa County Republicans encouraged to evade Obamacare law
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