The Roundup

Oklahoma Rep Looks to Nullify Obamacare

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Posted 07.10.12

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. Photo courtesy the Oklahoma State Legislature.

Rather than wait for the country to elect a president who will repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, is leading a charge to nullify it in Oklahoma. The representative, who’s also a family physician and surgeon, told conservative news site The New American: “The federal health care law represents a radical change toward socialized medicine and the idea of the federal government forcing Americans to buy health insurance was a bold overreach. I simply don’t see how the Supreme Court could justify upholding this law.”

“I am going to continue my efforts to pass legislation in Oklahoma to nullify the law in our state,” said Ritze. “Although most Americans want to see our health care system improved, they do not want the government to take it over or to make important decisions for them. There is a conservative approach to fixing the system, which is to remove the government intervention already in place that has kept it from being a truly free market system.”

Ritze’s legislation, HB 1276, “declares that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 ‘are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violate its true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers, and are hereby declared to be invalid in the State of Oklahoma, shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state,’ ” The New American reported.

His bill would also criminalize the enforcement of ACA in Oklahoma, making it a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000 or five years in prison or both.

But The Journal Record reported last week that nullifying the law “might not be so easy.”

Karen Rieger, an attorney in Oklahoma City, told the paper: “The court said the (individual) mandate was a valid exercise of taxing power. The state can’t just nullify it. It’s going to be collected by the IRS so there’s really not a state role in enforcing the individual mandate.”

Ritze told The New American:

So many state legislators are afraid to stand up to Congress. When you have something totally unconstitutional you have to take a stand and if the people don’t do it all at once, then we [the state legislatures] will do it incrementally, the same way the federal government has brought socialism to the states over the years.

The Tulsa World recently reported that the expansion of Medicaid, one of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, in Oklahoma could cut the number of uninsured citizens in half.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority estimates that some 200,000 Oklahomans would become eligible for Medicaid with the Affordable Care Act and that another 50,000 people who were previously Medicaid-eligible but not taking advantage of the program would also sign up.  …

Under an “enhanced outreach scenario,” meaning an aggressive effort to enroll Medicaid-eligible people, the (Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured report) predicts 367,541 newly eligible Oklahomans would enroll, a total of 470,358 would be added to Medicaid rolls and the number of people below the 133 percent poverty level would go down 74.8 percent.

Gov. Mary Fallin still hasn’t decided whether or not to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Even if the state opts out, its citizens will still be responsible for purchasing health insurance by 2014, barring, of course, nullification or repeal (should the country elect a new president).

Holly Wall, News Editor