Measure to Expand Options for Okla. Small Business Moves Forward

February 9, 2006

A key plank of the Oklahoma Senate Democratic agenda to strengthen small business won the approval of a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, according to the office of the lawmaker who sponsored a bill that would increase access to affordable health care for Oklahomans.

Senate Bill 1294, authored by Senator Tom Adelson, expands the Insure Oklahoma program to include small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The program, created by Democrats, allows small business owners the opportunity to provide health insurance to their employees at affordable rates.

“This program that places a premium on personal responsibility is working to reduce the number of uninsured Oklahomans, and today in the Senate we said we want that opportunity expanded to allow more Oklahoma small business owners to offer health insurance for their employees,” Adelson, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Social Services said. “On Monday during the State of the State Address, the Governor said he wanted to expand this program to include more small businesses and today in the Senate we got one step closer to making that happen.”

Adelson, who formerly served as Governor Henry’s Secretary of Health, said currently more than 700,000 Oklahomans, nearly one-fifth of the state’s population, are uninsured. He said they rarely receive preventative care, often wait until they are at the sickest to seek medical attention and then receive care from the most expensive outlets—hospital emergency rooms.

“Having access to affordable, quality medical care will make workers more productive and small businesses stronger,” the Senator said. “A more productive workforce means a healthier bottom line for small businesses and for Oklahoma’s economy.”

Adelson said there will be some who will argue that the state cannot afford to expand Insure Oklahoma, but he says as Oklahoma’s economy grows, the Legislature should look beyond the next elections and look to the next generation and fund the expansion of Insure Oklahoma.

“In the Senate, we intend to fight hard to make investments in Oklahoma that strengthen small business while promoting personal responsibility, and we can think of no greater way to do that than through innovative programs like Insure Oklahoma.” Adelson said.

Source: Oklahoma Senate

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