OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district is a close race to watch. According to SoonerPolls, State Senator Stephanie Bice (R) is leading in her effort to win the seat by one point, meanwhile, another recent poll showed incumbent Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D) ahead by over seven points.
The election results, one could argue, are up in the air. Each candidate has strong support from both sides, as they’re considered relatively moderate compared to the more extreme politicians from their respective parties.
With barely five weeks left until the November elections, Free Press will be providing coverage of races in the Oklahoma City metro area in depth. By doing so, we will give you, the reader, a better understanding of the choices you have on November 3.
CD-5 General Election
Stephanie Bice has been serving in the Oklahoma state senate since 2014. Most Oklahomans might know the senator for her work on changing liquor laws in the state. Bice wrote State Question 792, which modernized liquor laws in Oklahoma.
The senator has been fighting hard for this chance to represent Oklahoma in D.C., as she faced businesswoman Terry Neese in an intense runoff in August.
During the runoff, revealing reports showed Neese’s questionable past business practices, and even Bice was attacked with an ad that accused her of supporting Harvey Weinstein through her policy making.
In a phone interview, Free Press asked Bice about her stance on State Question 802 – state medicaid expansion. The senator made it clear that she was not a supporter of it.
“Like many other federal programs, changes in the future could impact the costs to the state of Oklahoma,” Senator Bice told us. “If you’re familiar with the structure currently, it is a 90/10 match – 90% paid by the feds, 10% by the state but there’s no guarantee that that’s going to be the case in the future.”
She went on to explain that Medicaid expansion is now inscribed in Oklahoma’s constitution by virtue of passing SQ802. And she is concerned that if the federal government were to change its policies on how much it was to match the state in Medicaid support (i.e. changing to 70/30 instead of 90/10), then Oklahoma would be in more financial distress.
Affordable Care Act
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, Bice believes that it has inhibited healthcare providers from providing affordable options and she claimed that it has consequently increased premiums.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, premiums for exchange-based plans nationally rose by roughly two percent in 2015, and currently, in Oklahoma, there are only two healthcare providers available under the ACA, which is a problem in Bice’s view.
“Looking to find ways to increase competition, which will drive down costs, is one of the key factors in looking at a replacement for the ACA program,” Bice told us.
The senator believes that there is a way to ensure that parts of the ACA, like lowering prescription drug prices and protecting those with preexisting conditions, is possible. However, she explained that the concrete steps for achieving this type of affordable healthcare with also less regulations for healthcare providers is complicated.
“You have to look at increasing competition, and the reason that we have so many insurance companies that have left the market place is because the people that are on the exchange right now are typically unhealthy and they’re driving up costs,” she explained. “You need to be able to provide insurance for all Oklahomans and that means both healthy and unhealthy without penalties for not doing so.”
The road ahead
Recently, a website titled “Can’t Count on Bice,” launched, providing critical takes on the senator. The site highlights how she voted for a budget raise for herself during the pandemic and accused her of “being silent,” and not protecting Oklahomans’ health insurance due to the current fight to repeal the ACA in the supreme court.
However, Bice believes that she stands as a strong contender, especially for Oklahoma businesses. She told us, “I’m a doer. I don’t sit back and watch. I tackle issues and find solutions to them.”
Senator Bice and Congresswoman Horn will face off head-to-head in a three debate series with the first one scheduled to be hosted by OETA on October 8.
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