Rep. James Lankford told about 60 constituents Tuesday at a town hall meeting that changes are needed in the health care industry and that he could support creating an online program allowing consumers to compare health insurance companies.
Although Lankford wouldn't discuss whether Oklahoma should set up an online health care exchange as required by federal law, he said such exchanges could accelerate free market competition.
“If there's a private structure for that and there's a way to engage with that, I'm all for it,” Lankford said. “I have no issue with the free market. What I have an issue with is when the federal government steps in and says, ‘You're going to do it; you're going to do it my way.'
“We should walk that line very carefully. We should do things that are good for our citizens in Oklahoma.”
Government leaders in Oklahoma are still attempting to push back against the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Oklahoma was one of 26 states to challenge the law in federal court, but the Supreme Court struck down many of their challenges last week.
Gov. Mary Fallin said shortly after the ruling was announced last week that Oklahoma would continue to hope for repeal of the law. It's unclear whether Oklahoma will move forward creating the required health care exchange or whether the state will let the federal government establish one for the state.
The town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Francis Tuttle Technology Center Reno Campus was one of a series of meetings Lankford holds with constituents when he returns to Oklahoma from Washington, D.C. Most of the attendees asked questions about how the federal health care act would impact them, particularly through new fees imposed by the law.
“The mandates as they will come down from the federal government will continue to move forward,” Lankford said. “Employers within two years will have to evaluate the bottom line and determine is it cheaper for me to pay the fine, excuse me, the tax ... or is it cheaper for me to cover this person's insurance.”
Fannie Mathis, 82, of Oklahoma City said she supports Lankford totally.
“The main issue is putting Obama out of office so we can get rid of Obamacare,” Mathis said.
While Carolyn Lewis, 72, said the health care law is needed.
“Oklahoma is a red state and will stay red,” Lewis said. “I don't understand why Lankford is spewing out Republican hate.”
Lankford, who faces a Democrat and two independent candidates on November's ballot, said the U.S. House will vote next week for the 27th time to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act.
He said Republicans understand that is a futile act because they don't currently have the votes in the Senate to change the law.
“The law continues to move forward as it has,” Lankford said. “Most of the things that most people are going to like, quite frankly, go into place or have already gone into place. Most things that people hate will go into affect next January or the January after that. They were conveniently saved until after the election.”