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04 May
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DNC Chair Perez Statement on Trumpcare Vote

Perez on Trumpcare Vote

“More than 60 times over the last seven years, House Republicans voted to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Today, they voted again to repeal those and more protections. For some Americans, Trumpcare will mean bankruptcy. For others, it will be a death sentence.

“Trump promised he wouldn’t take away health care from anyone. He lied. Trump promised he wouldn’t take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He lied. Trump promised not to cut Medicaid. He lied.

“My dad died of a heart attack when I was 12. But he lived long enough to teach me that our country’s greatness lies in its compassion. Instead of showing compassion, Trump and Republicans spat in the face of human decency. The DNC, Democrats across the country, and the millions of Americans who will be harmed by Trumpcare if it passes the Senate will hold them accountable.”

If Trumpcare becomes law:

  • 24 million Americans will be stripped of healthcare coverage.
  • Planned Parenthood will be defunded, make it more difficult for millions of women to access critical health services.
  • Premiums on older Americans will skyrocket.
  • Individuals with pre-existing conditions will be subject to faulty and expensive high-risk pools.
  • Insurance companies will be able institute lifetime limits on coverage, even on those with chronic illnesses.

04 May
0

DNC Chair Tom Perez Statement on Trumpcare

Perez on Trumpcare

“Trump and Republicans will own every preventable death, every untreated illness, and every bankruptcy that American families will be forced to bear if this bill becomes law and millions lose access to affordable health care. The 24 million who would lose access to health care is not just a number—it represents fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and even newborn babies with heart diseases or cancers that are too costly to treat without affordable insurance.

“Trump and Republicans are telling the parents of children with special needs that they’re on their own. They’re telling insurance companies to go ahead and use lifetime limits to decide when someone with a chronic illness has had enough health care. As if this attack on ordinary Americans weren’t reprehensible enough, Republicans in Congress might keep Obamacare’s best protections for themselves and their staffers, as they rip them away from their own constituents. It seems the only people who will truly benefit from this legislation are the uber-rich, who will pocket hundreds of billions in tax breaks. Trump and Republicans will be held accountable.”

03 May
0

RELEASE: DNC Statement on Comey Testimony

DNC Response to Comey Testimony

DNC deputy communications director Adrienne Watson released the following statement following FBI Director James Comey’s testimony today in the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“While Director Comey believes Russia is ‘the greatest threat of any nation on earth’ to our democratic process and predicted future Kremlin-sponsored attacks on our elections, Trump continues to give cover to Putin by questioning the conclusion of 17 intelligence agencies and failing to deliver the cyber security report he promised.

“Comey’s comments are a chilling reminder that President Trump has been willing to ignore a grave threat to our national security because it works well for him personally.”

02 May
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RELEASE: Bill to Raise Fees on Vending Machines Trounced Tuesday in State House, 20-76

Bill to Raise Fees on Vending Machines Trounced Tuesday in State House, 20-76

OKLAHOMA CITY (2 May 2017) – The Oklahoma House of Representatives soundly defeated a measure Tuesday that would have increased decal fees on all coin-operated machines by 50%.

For example, on coin-operated music/amusement devices the fee would have been raised from $75 to $112.50; on vending machines that require a coin or other thing of value (such as a bill of some denomination), the fee would have been increased from $75 to $100. For a coin-operated bulk vending device that dispenses one or more products through six or more distribution mechanisms, the decal fee would have been increased from $15 to $22.50.

House Bill 2359 would have generated an extra $1.28 million for the state treasury, the Oklahoma Tax Commission calculated.

Among the legislators debating against the proposal was Democrat Rep. Forrest Bennett, a first-term lawmaker whose district includes midtown, downtown, and southside Oklahoma City.

He told his colleagues that he received an email from a constituent who is in one of Oklahoma’s seven veterans’ centers, asking him to refrain from raising the fees on vending machines.

Although the state’s vending machine fees aren’t imposed directly on the users, they typically get “passed on” to the consumer, Bennett noted. So his constituent “is asking us to not raise the cost of the Twinkies and the pretzels and the other things in the vending machines.”

Bennett rides the bus to the Capitol on most days when the Legislature is in session, and said that many of the people with whom he shares public transportation often rely on food dispensed from vending machines in the downtown transit center to “get some sustenance” for their bodies. “I watch them count their pennies to buy their bus passes and then see what’s left” so they can get something to eat from the vending machines.

HB 2359 is “going to hurt the people I see on a day-to-day basis,” Bennett asserted.

Also debating against the measure was Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, who wrote recently about “the disastrous 2010 revenue grab” when the Legislature, faced with a huge budget deficit, “attempted to shake down” the vending machine industry by increasing the vending machine tax.

The governor and legislators wrote a budget anticipating that fees from vending machine would more than double: from $3.9 million to more than $8 million annually.

Instead, by 2011 the tax generated just $2.1 million, so the Legislature halved the vending machine fee. But it was too late. “To this day, this fee generates less revenue than it did in 2009 before the increase,” Murphey wrote.

HB 2359 barely passed the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, 12-11, and was trounced on the House floor Tuesday, 20-76. http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf/2017-18%20SUPPORT%20DOCUMENTS/votes/House/HB2359_VOTES.HTM

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MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

02 May
0

Veterans Affairs Outsourcing Lab Work By Rep. Renegar

State Dept. of Veterans Affairs Outsourcing Lab Work, Scrapping EKGs and Cutting Doctors at Veterans’ Centers

By State Rep. Brian Renegar

OKLAHOMA CITY (2 May 2017) – As we document the reduced level of care that the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs is providing to state veterans, we need to keep in mind what they have done and what is in the works.

First, the ODVA removed the EKG machines from state veterans’ centers, claiming those centers don’t have cardiologists on staff. When the medical community debunked that theory, the ODVA decided that they would put the EKG machines back if the Legislature gave them back the $10 million we cut from their budget. The EKG machines are already paid for, so what logical explanation could the ODVA possibly give for the $10 million repayment statement?

The ODVA has cut the number of doctors at the state’s seven veterans’ centers.

Next, the ODVA is limiting the use of blood chemistry machines which are used to gauge what fluids to give a veteran. Those lab machines are already paid for, so we are going from essentially a free test to paying for a private lab test – and from 30 minutes to 24 hours for results.

The impact from outsourcing lab work:

  • Delays in lab results will delay the diagnosis, which will delay veterans’ treatments.
  • Delays in treatment will increase emergency room transfers.
  • Increasing ER transfers will increase hospital admissions.
  • ER and hospital costs will impact on the ODVA, veterans and their family.
  • Increasing hospital admission by just 5% is more than the whole lab operational cost for the whole year for the vet centers.

The ODVA plan is to close all labs at veterans’ centers, so the agency is using Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma (DLO) to perform its lab work. The problem is that by using a private lab, the turnaround for veterans’ centers is about 24 hours.

But is that the only issue with using DLO? Most laboratories give a doctors rate that is far lower than the patient rate. This is one legislator who is going to check on the rate that veterans’ families are charged versus what DLO actually charges. I will do this by making open-records requests. We also need to check closely on the business arrangement between the ODVA and DLO.

Does anyone see the need here for an audit by our State Auditor?

All of these problems have come from the fact that the Department of Veterans Affairs bought a software program that is designed for nursing homes, not a veterans center. This mistake is not affecting the administration at ODVA, it is affecting our military veterans.

(Representative Renegar is a Democrat from McAlester.)

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MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile