Thursday, March 31, 2011

House Panel Approves Health Care Insurance Act

Legislation approved by a House committee today would allow Oklahomans to purchase policies from a potentially much larger group of insurance companies, providing the potential for significant savings.

Senate Bill 57, by Senator Bill Brown and Rep. Mike Ritze, would create the Health Care Choice Act.

Under the bill, Oklahomans could purchase health insurance policies from out-of-state insurance companies.

“By increasing consumer choice and competition, this legislation could drive down health insurance costs for working families,” said Ritze, a Broken Arrow Republican and physician. “Because this proposal relies on the free market, it will give greater power to consumers and, ultimately, a better product.”

Under the bill, the state insurance commissioner would negotiate compacts with other states to allow the interstate purchases. The compacts would be subject to disapproval by the Legislature or governor. The commissioner would then administer and enforce any requirements placed on an insurance company under the compacts.

Senate Bill 57 previously passed the state Senate on a bipartisan 42-3 vote. Today, it passed out of the House Insurance Committee on an 8-2 vote. It now goes to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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