November 20, 2013 Article
By: Kenneth Wells


It is too bad that we have to be reminded of the same arguments which surrounded Social Security and Medicare when those two most popular government-sponsored programs were started. Both were classified as socialistic, communistic, efforts to break the government – and in the case of Medicare – reasons for doctors to terminate their practices and close their doors, none of which came true!

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has had a bumpy startup with a greater volume of customers than anticipated and a Republican-controlled House doing all it can to completely eradicate thePPACA. The Republicans reported that their latest attempt to damage the PPACA created a “mass exodus of Democrats” to Republicans’ ideology. The actual number in that “MASS” is small. In four years, Republicans have been able to gain a grand total of FOUR more Democrats than the total number of Democrats voting against the PPACA on March 10, 2010.

When presenting statistics, Republicans’ failing memories preclude them from acknowledging that only 132 enrollments occurred during the first year of Massachusetts’ state-run health plan (model for today‘s PPACA). Today, Massachusetts reports 90% participation!

According to a November 14, 2013 article in NewsOK (a cautiously conservative news outlet) on November 1, 2013, 346 Oklahomans had selected a plan from the Federal Marketplace (almost three times the number during Massachusetts’s FIRST YEAR). Additionally, over 6,500 Oklahomans have completed the Marketplace application on healthcare.gov but have not yet decided upon a policy. NewsOK’s article also reported that over 1,400 of those Oklahomans who applied through the Marketplace were eligible for financial assistance with which to purchase health insurance.

Oklahoma Policy Institute reported that 2,412 from that same group were eligible for enrollment in Medicaid (Sooner Care)/CHIP. Where do these people fit in the lineup of people awaiting access to Oklahoma Sooner Care? Governor Fallin and the State Legislature MUST ACT NOW to Expand Medicaid for all eligible Oklahomans!

Responding to President Obama’s plan to bring the insurance industry back into line with the PPACA, the Republicans again disrupted implementation. According to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) – reported byThe Center for American Progress – “…it was a ‘targeted strike’ on the law and just one more step on the road to appeal.” This feeble attempt to nullify the law would put in place an amendment allowing insurees to keep their current policies for one to two years longer and allow insurers to accept new enrollees while retaining the option to cancel policies at any time for any reason. Those plans could exempt catastrophic illness, include a payment cap on claims one might not be aware of or exempt arbitrary pre-existing conditions which would cancel a policy.

NOTE: Policies written – or re-issued – after March 2010 ARE NOT INCLUDED in the “grandfather” clause of the PPACA. Insurance companies should be held accountable for issuing those policies, knowing they would be worthless January 2014!

Sadly, the successes of PPACA receive very little notice from the media in Oklahoma. To this writer, that is extremely peculiar since the states that have set up State-Run Marketplaces are moving along smoothly. Are we not worthy of the same considerations?

David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Director, was quoted in the same NewsOK article, “It is going to require a real effort to assure people that things have been fixed. At the same time, the need is there, the demand is there, and we know there are thousands of Oklahomans who are looking to the Exchange to get the affordable coverage they have not had in the past.”

Governor Fallin’s glib remarks about the problems of the Affordable Care Act should remind us to acknowledge the successes of both Social Security and Medicare. A decade from now, we will take pride in this successful endeavor – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act!


November 6, 2013 Article


In his final message to the nation, President George Washington wrote, “One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and the aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourself too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.”

Today, we have a government with two parties fighting for control which, at times, is a detriment to our economy and our citizens. However, it has been pointed out that we really have four parties operating within our two-party political system – the Moderates and Ultra Left of the Democrats vs the Moderates and Ultra Right of the Republicans. To function, the government – it seems – might operate much more effectively if the Moderates of both parties formed an allegiance. Or, with four divisions, let us consider the inequities:

(1) While the Republicans feel that the size of government should return to the functionality of the established government upon the inception of our nation, the Democrats believe in the Preamble to the Constitution, meaning that Congress is responsible to see to the welfare of its citizens. When a population grows by multiples of millions, it is only common sense that the government must continue to grow. If a less governmental spending is the desire of some congressional members, they might consider cutting their salaries and expense accounts.

(2) A smaller government could result in a smaller organized Department of Defense comprised of community militias with little or no coordinated training. That would fit right in with the National Rifle Association’s less than accurate interpretation of the “right-to-bear arms”.

(3) Republicans proclaim that their stance on abortion, due to a religious teaching, is acceptable. To make that stance a political doctrine is not. That is but one example of why the Constitution clearly divides church from state. A WOMAN’S right to retain control of her body is a right which no MAN should be able to legislate away.

(4) Republicans want fewer regulations for their campaign contributors, while asking for increased governance in everyone’s bedrooms. Making reference to one limited source, in support of a premise, does not lead to an intelligent and/or thoughtful decision on an issue. The Republican Party platform – to which the majority of its members adhere – is no longer compatible with mainstream living in America.

(5) Democrats believe in clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and safe working conditions for employees. They also believe in an economy which offers employees the choice of joining bargaining groups to better their wages and working conditions. The opposite side touts their past misrepresentations to the population, wrongly convincing them that “right-to-work” laws would create more and better paying jobs. This, like trickle-down economics, has proven to be a disaster for the middle class. Organized unions, the backbone of the middle class, had very effective apprenticeship programs which promoted quality skills in and financial progressions for its members.

(6) If Republicans have their way, allowing global warming and atmospheric polluting to go unchecked, we will all have to learn how to row a boat or swim. Democrats would rather live on solid dry land and maintain a balance at the North and South Poles.

(7) To have a workforce that increases national productivity requires adequate education. Not everyone will matriculate at Harvard or Yale. Still, everyone should be afforded an education, with assistance from our government if needed, which allows them to progress economically. Trying to unobtrusively continue to reduce the financing of grades Pre-K-12 in public schools, while spending public schools’ dollars to add to the number of for-profit charter schools is discriminatory and does not give all Americans a fair chance at an equitable life.

Ken Wells