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Senator Lankford Votes to Start Debate on Healthcare Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today voted in favor of a procedural measure to begin an open debate and amendment process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

“Today, I voted to start debate and begin the amendment process to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said Lankford. “This was the first step to provide Oklahomans relief from the problems of Affordable Care Act. In Oklahoma, we are down to only one health insurer on the individual market and have experienced an average premium increase of 76 percent in 2017. Across the nation, health care premiums in the exchange are increasing by an average of 25 percent this year. We must debate reforms that will lead to more affordable and practical options for Oklahomans of all socioeconomic levels and all health conditions.

“I know many Oklahomans are confused about what they hear in the media about this health care conversation. Today’s vote was only a step forward to discuss how we can best protect Americans from the higher costs and decreased choices forced by Obamacare. At the heart of this conversation are people, and we must not lose sight of that. We cannot let the extreme voices of fear and hyperbole prevent a substantive conversation about how to protect families in poverty and ensure greater choice for everyone.”

Affordable Care Act and Healthcare Facts:

  • Healthcare insurance premiums have increased 76 percent on average for Oklahoma residents on the Affordable Care Act federal exchange. Oklahoma is one of five states to only have one insurer on the exchange (Blue Cross Blue Shield) in 2017, joining South Carolina, Alaska, Alabama and Wyoming.
  • Since 2013, health insurance premiums have risen 105 percent, from an average of $2,784 in 2013 to $5,712 in 2017 on the federal exchange (an increase of $2,928), according to the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
  • In Oklahoma, the situation is much worse, with premiums skyrocketing by 201 percent ($4,968 higher), since 2013.
  • 95,910 families paid $20.9 million in Obamacare penalties in 2014, with the vast majority of these households making incomes of less than $50,000 a year. 
  • At least 44 counties across America are projected to have no exchange insurer in 2018. That number will likely climb higher in 2019, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • The Affordable Care Act individual mandate was designed to force healthy people to buy insurance coverage, however, it has not accomplished that goal. Many healthy people have decided they would rather pay the IRS penalty than buy Obamacare coverage. According to the IRS, for 2015, 6.5 million people paid the individual mandate penalty and another 12.7 million claimed one of the various exemptions from paying the penalty.