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August 24, 2010 Tuesday
SULLIVAN PRAISES COURT DECISION ON HEALTH CARE TAX
States News Service
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
The following information was released by the Oklahoma House of Representatives:
State Rep. Dan Sullivan today praised the Oklahoma Supreme Court for declaring a tax on health insurance payments to be unconstitutional.
“I argued against this measure when it reached the House floor because I believed it was an unnecessary tax on business and I agree with the courts decision,” said Sullivan, R-Tulsa.
House Bill 2437 would have levied a 1-percent tax on insurance payments, increasing the cost of health care for working families by $78 million per year.
Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland has challenged the bill in court, saying it was enacted unconstitutionally. The Oklahoma Constitution states that revenue-raising measures cannot be passed in the final five days of the legislative session and that tax increases must receive three-fourths support in both the House and Senate or be sent to a vote of the people.
House Bill 2437 was approved in the final week of session and did not receive the support of a supermajority in either chamber of the Legislature.
Sullivan noted those flaws when he debated against passage of House Bill 2437 on May 24, saying it would be struck down by the court.
In an order assuming original jurisdiction, a majority of justices today declared, “H.B. 2437 was enacted in violation” of Article 5, Section 33B and 33D of the Oklahoma Constitution and “is not to be enforced.”
Sullivan noted the tax would have applied to self-insured employers, and not simply insurance companies.
“Those self-insured companies all across Oklahoma would have been subject to this tax,” Sullivan said. “This is not the time to be raising taxes on businesses that are already struggling in a national recession. We need to find other ways to fund our Medicaid program than to rely on job-killing taxes.”
Sullivan said incoming House leadership has developed a plan that would create the revenue necessary for Medicaid funding without relying on a tax increase.
“As chair of the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee, I have worked hard to hold the line on potential increases to healthcare costs and premiums,” Sullivan said. “We already have too many people in Oklahoma who cannot afford health insurance. A tax that increases the cost of health care does nothing to help the uninsured and would actually force more people to drop coverage.”
To view Sullivans May 24 debate against the health tax in House Bill 2437, go to http://okhouse.mediasite.com/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=ddce3cf779894636b90a7dff80c6c40b1dandplayfrom=14670000
August 24, 2010