OK Insurance Comish turns down health care money, locals respond

LAWTON, Okla. – Oklahoma officials do not want anything to do with the Obama health care plan and to prove it, state officials are turning down $1 million.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has sent a letter to federal officials saying Oklahoma is giving back the $1 million in health care funds.  What is more, Doak wants Gov. Mary Fallin to sign legislation that would put Oklahoma's health care in the hands of Oklahomans, not the federal government.

Reactions around Lawton were extremely mixed.  An independent health insurance agent who has been doing business in Lawton for over a decade had reservations.  And while some Lawton residents say they applaud Doak's actions, they all had different reasons for it.

7News also heard from the Oklahoma Hospital Association, who says Oklahoma needs to think hard before making any judgments.

"I used to write five to seven health insurance policies a week and now I'm lucky if I write five to seven a month," said Don Cherry.

Cherry has been running an independent health insurance agency in Lawton since 1998.  He says since the national health care plan was enacted, his business has dwindled.  He says he lost $42,000 in 2010 alone.  He says he supports Doak's move.

"The rates on the insurance have gone up and the competition or the number of business that offer health insurance has gone down.  And the clients, the people that have rate increases, sometimes the new insurance that they can get is not cheaper than what they have," said Cherry.

Lawton resident Debbie Logan agrees.  She says that she is worried that less competition in the insurance market will force her premiums to rise.

"I like the health care that I have now.  I like that I can go to any doctor that I want to go to without a referral.  It's just important for me to be able to retain that," said Logan.

Dawn Brock says it all comes down to this.

"What happened to free choice?  It's, you know, it all comes down to the vote of the people," said Brock.

Cherry says he hopes that Fallin will sign legislation to reaffirm Oklahoma's control over health care issues to keep competition alive in the industry.

"America is competition.  We have competition in everything we do," said Cherry.

The Oklahoma Hospital Association's Craig Jones says the government's plan is complicated.  He says people need to check it out thoroughly before taking a side.

Key provisions of the bill will assert the states' control of the regulation of health care.  Fallin has until Wednesday to act on the measure.