January 6, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Amber England
Senate Republicans Prove Allegiance to Powerful Insurance Industry
"Coffee Can't" Check Partisanship at the Door
"We are sorely disappointed the Senate Republicans chose to institutionalize their love for the insurance industry today by adopting rules that protect the fat cats trying to deny Oklahomans the care their doctors say they need and the health coverage they deserve," Democratic Leader Charlie Laster said. "Sadly this is not what we believe Oklahomans bargained for nor do they deserve this sort of unprecedented power grabbing in the name of petty partisan paybacks."
Laster said Coffee spoke about the need for the State Senate to be a place where ideas are treated like seeds, rather than bullets, with the ability to grow and not die. He said he was hopeful Democrats would be successful in eliminating a new rule that would make it virtually impossible for any law requiring insurance companies to act responsibly to be heard in the state senate.
That hope was quickly dashed, Laster said, when Republicans voted in lock step to include in the rules of the State Senate a provision protecting one single industry, the insurance industry, from being held accountable for denying coverage of certain medical procedures such as colorectal screening and coverage for the treatment and diagnosis of Autism and cancer patients choosing to participate in clinical trials.
"I do not believe there is any other legislative chamber in the country that writes into their rules a provision protecting specific industries, much less an industry as powerful as insurance companies," Laster said. "We should be embarrassed that Republicans chose to protect their friends in the insurance industry over the need for Oklahomans to have access to affordable health care."
Laster said he finds it ironic that when Republicans were in the minority they often characterized the Senate as a place where "good bills go to die."
'Today, Republicans certainly made the statement the State Senate will now be a place where discussion about the health care of all Oklahomans will certainly die without debate," he concluded.