The Oklahoman editorial page’s recent spiteful “good riddance” to Wayne Rohde, who has fought intensely and bravely for a health insurance mandate here that would cover treatment for autistic children, is a new low in its pro-health insurance company agenda.
The editorial (Movin’ on in: State loses some, gains even more July 13, 2010) also cites an article by two “Research Fellows” with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), which makes dubious claims about population growth in the state.
OCPA is an ultra-conservative think tank that engages in faux, GOP-sponsored intellectualism that gives newspapers like The Oklahoman a way to attack decent Oklahomans and further its destructive, anti-middle class agenda. In the OCPA and The Oklahoman world, the rich can do no wrong and are the only group deserving of decent health care.
The gist of the editorial is that it doesn’t matter that Rohde has announced he and his family are moving to Minnesota so he can get treatment coverage for his son, Nick, because, well, the state is gaining more residents from other places than it loses residents to other places. The Oklahoma Legislature has declined to make insurance coverage available for autism despite Rohde’s intensive, articulate campaign.
The editorial included this little nasty paragraph:
Other families with autistic children may also leave. People move for a variety of reasons – jobs, cost of living, safety, etc. – and more people are coming to Oklahoma than leaving it.
The Oklahoman: Hurray, we’re only getting the healthy people now. Hurray, “families with autistic children may also leave”! Let’s just hope none of these new people have kids with illnesses, especially autism. Well, shoot-fahr, maybe we can just run them out, too!
There’s no discussion in the editorial of the real, pressing issue of providing insurance coverage for autism, only a crass, calculated overview of whether the issue will affect population growth. In other words, who cares about kids like Nick here? It’s population growth that matters, not treating illness, right? To take it further, given the newspaper’s hysterical response to recent health care reform, who cares about health coverage for anyone in Oklahoma who can’t afford it?
The short article the editorial cites claiming 56,000 people since 2005 have moved into the state from other places is filled with speculation and has an obvious political agenda to say the least. Written by J. Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik, described in the editorial as OCPA Research Fellows and George Mason University economists, the article admits a lack of evidence for its overall thesis:
Unfortunately, the data do not provide any information as to the characteristics of these new residents. Are they empty-nesters moving to retire in Oklahoma? Are they young families moving for a better lifestyle (jobs, affordable housing, good education, etc.)?
Or are they people who have simply moved here during The Great Recession when Oklahoma’s economy was still resilient? And what about this 56,000 number? Is it really that significant? That’s five years at about 10,000 or so a year. Wow, astounding growth! We also lost residents as well.
In other words, there’s no evidence that people are moving to Oklahoma in big numbers because it’s a great state that does things like deny insurance coverage for the treatment of autism. But that’s what The Oklahoman and, by extension, the OCPA wants you to believe.
(I tried to find information on Moody and Warcholik at the George Mason University site, but only came up with this about Warcholik’s 2002 dissertation. Neither Moody nor Warcholik are currently listed as faculty in the Economic Department’s faculty listing on the George Mason site. They both have apparently been connected to The Tax Foundation, a conservative, anti-tax organization. It’s disingenuous for the editorial to list them as “George Mason University economists” unless they work at the university full-time as professors.)
Incredibly, The Oklahoman editor Ed Kelley just recently lamented the fact the state wasn’t growing fast enough, which directly contradicts Moody’s and Warcholik’s rosy assessment of Oklahoma.
So which is it? Are people flocking here from other states because of how great the state is to raise a family-just as along as no one is sick, of course, especially with autism-or do the 2009 U.S. Census numbers, as Kelley argues, show the state actually needs more population?
The newspaper’s editorial is supposedly attacking claims that including an autistic insurance mandate here could attract new residents, but its disingenuous approach reveals that the real agenda is merely to make sure Rohde and his supporters know who won out in the end, at least so far: Big insurance companies and the editorial writers at The Oklahoman. That’s about as ugly and nasty as it gets, especially when it includes a kid with an illness.