Saturday, October 31, 2015

KFOR: Oklahoma Obamacare premiums see 35% price hike

Right in time for Halloween, ObamaCare is out with some new - and scary - price increases for Oklahomans.

From KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City:
Oklahomans who buy health insurance on the federal marketplace could be in for sticker shock this year.

The Department of Health and Human Services is estimating premiums will jump 35 percent on average for the one company returning to the exchange this year: Blue Cross Blue Shield.

According to HHS, last year, more than 126,000 Oklahomans took their pick of plans from four different companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Community Care, Global Health and Assurant.

This year, three of those companies dropped out, and only one - United Healthcare - stepped in to replace them.
Read more here, and watch KFOR's clip below:


I'll take "Things Conservatives Said Would Happen" for $1000, Mr. Trebek.

On this note, let me point you once again to my posts on Samaritan Ministries, a non-insurance alternative for Christians that is exempt from the ObamaCare penalty-tax. It's been great for my family -- it's morally acceptable, financially affordable, and realistically usable. Take a leap of faith, and leave the insurance/ObamaCare mess behind!

Friday, October 30, 2015

McGuigan: It's time for Fallin to appoint Cathy Costello to Labor Commission

It's time for Gov. Fallin to appoint a Commissioner of Labor. 
Cathy Costello is the best choice.

OKLAHOMA CITY – A shocking murder took place in August, when Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello's eldest son, Christian, stabbed his father to death at a restaurant in north Oklahoma City.

Like many other journalists, I reported reactions from state officials and others at the time.

Among many issues highlighted across the philosophical spectrum was agreement that the state must reform provisions and practices relating to the treatment of mental health issues, including those that afflict Christian Costello.

Mark Costello was a remarkable man. Although I did not initially support him for election as commissioner, I became over the course of five years convinced he was the best combination of fiscal conservatism and even-tempered governance among the statewide elected officials. Many of his peers are fine individuals, yet Costello stood out (something many of them expressed after his death).

Aside from his ability as a leader, Mark Costello was a remarkable man who managed -- with wit, intelligence, grace and integrity – to forge alliances and a friendships across the spectrum of state politics and policy.

In September I supported Mark's widow, Cathy Costello, to fill the vacancy created by his death,
as did many others around the state.

Mrs. Costello had, shortly before, asked Fallin to appoint her to the post. She is the person most like Mark, the man voters chose twice for the job. She will build upon his remarkable and all-too-short time in public life.

Yes, I have a point of view. It is informed with knowledge of the issues and individuals involved – including the late Commissioner – and of public policy in this particular arena.

Oklahoma state law provides, “When any office shall become vacant, [the governor] shall, unless otherwise provided by law, appoint a person to fill such vacancy, who shall continue in office until a successor shall have been duly elected or appointed, and qualified according to law.”

State law also provides, “If any officer of the state, district, county, city, town or other governmental subdivision of this state shall die while in office, and shall leave a surviving spouse, the said surviving spouse shall be eligible (if otherwise qualified) to be appointed to and to hold said office during the term for which the said officer was elected.…”

These provisions are not arcane expressions of the intentions of those long dead.

They are the framework within which decisions are made for leadership in statewide posts, including Commissioner of Labor.

Others interested in this important appointment may examine provisions for themselves in several documents that can be accessed online.

On September 2, Governor Mary Fallin wrote to Stacy Bonner, a financial officer at the Department of Labor, asking her to serve as Acting Commissioner “until such time as I make a formal appointment” to the position.

Curiously, in the letter – a copy of which The City Sentinel has obtained – she referred to Bonner as Deputy Commissioner.

Deputy Commissioner posts can, for cost-saving or other reasons, remain vacant.

Deputy Commissioners are appointed by the head of the agency, that is, the elected or duly-appointed commissioner.

It is not clear that the late Commissioner Costello ever appointed Bonner to the post.

I have no reason to believe he ever did so.

Referring to Bonner as deputy commissioner does not make her so, unless my awareness of the late Commissioner's actions in this area is faulty.

I have no quarrel with Bonner, yet I advocate the wisdom of established practice and believe she should not be made commissioner.

A better option is available.

The governor has authority to make an appointment. She should do so soon.

I have a point of view and it is this:

Our governor should appoint Cathy Costello to fill out the term of her late husband. Mrs. Costello is qualified in her own right. She is the best choice to continue the progress made in workplace safety, advancement of the interests of workers and improvements in the Oklahoma economy.

NOTE: McGuigan served as Deputy Commissioner of Labor 2005-07. He was appointed to the position during the administration of the late Brenda Reneau.

          --          --          --          --          --          --

I completely agree with McGuigan's thoughts on this matter. I don't understand what's taking Governor Fallin so long to make any appointment, either.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Conservative Index scores for Oklahoma Legislature's presidential endorsers


Back in August, I compared the Oklahoma Constitution's 'Conservative Index' lifetime scores for Oklahoma legislators who had endorsed Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. Since then, three other presidential candidates have released Oklahoma legislative endorsements, so here's the update.

Marco Rubio has 14 endorsers, with an average score of 65.5. Six endorsers are House members (average of 67.8), and eight are Senate members (average of 64.6).

Ted Cruz has 13 endorsers, with an average score of 81.3. Ten endorsers are House members (average of 82.9), and three are Senate members (average of 76).

Jeb Bush has 10 endorsers, with an average score of 62.2. Nine endorsers are House members (average of 61.4), and one is a Senate member (average of 69).

Donald Trump has 2 endorsers, with an average score of 63. One endorser is a House member (average of 63), and one is a Senate member (average of 63).

Carly Fiorina has 1 endorser in the Senate, with an average of 90.

For comparison, the average Conservative Index lifetime score for Republicans in the state legislature is 71.6. The average for GOP House members is 72.5 and for GOP Senate members it's 70.0.

14 Oklahoma legislators endorse Rubio for President


Marco Rubio Oklahoma Chairman David Holt Announces 13 Legislative Endorsements

The Marco Rubio for President Oklahoma State Chairman, Senator David Holt, has announced the names of 13 other Republican legislators who are endorsing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s candidacy to become the next President of the United States.  

“Marco’s candidacy is resonating with Oklahomans, as evidenced by this strong list of supporters from the Oklahoma Legislature,” said Senator David Holt.   “These folks come from across the state and from all walks of life, but like me, they all believe in Marco’s message.   I believe Marco will perform very strongly in Oklahoma’s Republican presidential primary, and then I know Marco will win Oklahoma next November on his way to becoming the next President of the United States."

The additional legislators endorsing Marco Rubio are:

Senator Kim David (R - Porter)
Senator Eddie Fields (R - Wynona)
Senator Jack Fry (R - Midwest City)
Senator A.J. Griffin (R - Guthrie)
Senator Wayne Shaw (R - Grove)
Senator Jason Smalley (R - Stroud)
Senator Roger Thompson (R - Okemah)
Rep. Josh Cockroft (R - Wanette)
Rep. Randy Grau (R - Edmond)
Rep. Katie Henke (R - Tulsa)
Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R - Tulsa)
Rep. Leslie Osborn (R - Mustang)
Rep. Harold Wright (R - Weatherford)

With today’s announcement, Senator Rubio has more publicly announced endorsements from Oklahoma legislators (14) than any other candidate for President.

Senator Rubio will be a candidate in the March 1st, 2016 Oklahoma Republican presidential primary.  Senator Rubio most recently visited the state last month, when he paid his respects at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and delivered a speech outlining his energy plan.  Oklahoma supporters of Senator Rubio’s campaign can receive updates from Senator Rubio's campaign in Oklahoma by following @TeamMarcoOK on Twitter

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

CNBC debate moderators nuked by a Cruz missile

I missed most of this evening's presidential debate due to church, but wow, you have to check this clip out. Texas Senator Ted Cruz verbally firebombed the debate moderators.



By all accounts I've seen, this was the worst-moderated debate in recent history.

Bridenstine comments on budget and Speaker votes

Congressman Jim Bridenstine on the House Speaker Vote
 
Congressman Bridenstine:  Today the GOP Conference nominated Rep. Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House, giving him 200 votes out of 245 cast.  43 Members, including me, voted for Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida.
 
Rep. Ryan is the Republican nominee, and I will vote for him on the floor of the House. I will work constructively with the new Speaker to advance sound legislation addressing the nation’s urgent needs, and I will also hold him accountable to lead House in responsibly performing its representational duties and advancing our national interests.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine Votes Against the Backroom Budget Deal

Congressman Bridenstine:  Today I voted against the “Bipartisan Budget Act.”  This massive bill was negotiated in secret and brought to Members who were given 41 hours to consider it.  No amendments were allowed and representation was denied to the American people.  It increased spending, increased annual deficits, and raised the debt limit.  I voted No.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fallin: prepare plans for 10% cut in nonessential spending

As a state that is heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues, the recent collapse of energy prices is setting Oklahoma up for another "tough" budget year. Here's a press release from Governor Fallin, with some of my thoughts below:

Governor Mary Fallin Orders State Agencies to Develop 
Plans for 10% Cut in Nonessential Spending
A moratorium is also placed on nonessential out-of-state travel

OKLAHOMA CITY - With 2016 expected to be a challenging budget year, Governor Mary Fallin today issued an executive order requiring the chief administrative officer of every Oklahoma agency, board and commission to prepare written plans to reduce nonessential expenses by 10 percent for both the remainder of this fiscal year and for the entire 2017 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The executive order does not mandate any spending cuts; rather, it asks agency heads to plan for potential future cuts.

The plans are to include an explanation of how the dollars saved from the reduction will be reallocated to other needs within the agency. The written spending cut plans are due to each agency’s respective Cabinet secretary by Dec. 1, according to Executive Order 2015-46.

The governor also placed a moratorium on nonessential, taxpayer-funded, out-of-state travel for all state employees. Essential travel is limited to trips that are critical to core state agency functions, maintain professional accreditation unavailable in Oklahoma, are required by the federal government or are necessary to secure or maintain federal funding.

Also, effective Dec. 1, advance written notification must be given for proposed state payment of any:
  • Agency, state and public employee or officer membership(s) in any private or public organization;
  • Nonessential out-of-state travel for agency employees and officers that is wholly paid for by an entity other than the state, or;
  • Nonemergency purchase(s) that exceed $10,000.
“I’m asking every agency to start planning for potential spending cuts and to develop a strategy that protects essential services,” said Fallin. “It’s important we get ahead of this issue as we enter a difficult budget year. Families and businesses tighten their belts during lean times; our state agencies can do the same.”

Revenue for the appropriated state budget for the 2016 fiscal year has come in below projections. A significant shortfall is expected to occur in the next budget year.

Here's a few thoughts I had on this.

"Non-essential spending"
If it's non-essential, why is government doing it? This reminds me of the federal government "shutdown" in 2013. Republicans [ostensibly] believe that government should be small and limited, which should preclude "nonessential" spending.

"Nonessential out-of-state travel"
Why is state government paying for any nonessential out-of-state travel to begin with?

Governor Fallin campaigned in 2010 and 2014 on "right-sizing" state government. Budget shortfalls provide the opportune time to do just that, yet we continue to see that state government hasn't really shrunk under Republican leadership.

The folks at OCPA have been beating this drum for a long time (example from earlier this year). State spending reached an all time high in 2015. It's time Republicans got serious and did more than "trim around the edges" of state government.

Music Monday: The Harmonious Blacksmith

This week's Music Monday is the final movement from Georg Frideric Handel's Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430, more commonly known as The Harmonious Blacksmith. As if we hadn't previously established that I have a rather unusual musical taste -- I've always been a fan of the harpsichord. This sounds and looks like an incredibly difficult piece to play.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Carson 25%, Trump 19%, Rubio 9%, Cruz 7% in OK poll

A new presidential primary poll finds GOP candidate Ben Carson now beating Donald Trump in Oklahoma. Commissioned by The Oklahoman newspaper, the survey shows some significant movement from the last one released by SoonerPoll in September.

Oklahoma Republican Primary Survey (link)
The Oklahoman/Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates500 registered Republicans in Oklahoma, Oct. 19th-22nd, MoE +/- 4.3%
Ben Carson - 25%
Donald Trump - 19%
Marco Rubio - 9%
Ted Cruz - 7%
Mike Huckabee - 4%
Jeb Bush - 3%
Carly Fiorina - 2%
John Kasich - 2%
Chris Christie - 1%
Rand Paul - 1%
Santorum/Pataki/Jindal/Graham - 0%
Undecided - 27%
Carson stopped in Oklahoma this past week for some book signings, and now leads Trump in recent Iowa polling.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Protect Life & Marriage Rally featuring Lankford, Bridenstine, Russell


Tomorrow afternoon, Christians from all across Oklahoma will be gathering at the Oklahoma State Capitol for a Protect Life and Marriage rally. U.S. Senator James Lankford will be headlining the event, and Congressmen Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) and Steve Russell (OK-5) will be speaking, in addition to numerous pastors helping the effort.

A news release from the organization says more than 700 pastors and their congregations plan to come. Similar rallies in North Carolina last Saturday and in South Carolina in August attracted over 10,000 supporters at each event.

The Protect Life and Marriage rally will be held Sunday (Oct. 25th) at 4pm, on the south lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol building in Oklahoma City.




Monday, October 19, 2015

'Picnic with the Party' Thursday in Muskogee



The Muskogee County Republicans are holding their annual fall "Picnic with the Party" on Thursday, October 22nd, at 6pm, at Muskogee's Civitan Park. The cost is $10 per family, and will include hot dogs, dessert, drinks and all the fixings. Bring the kids or grandkids, and enjoy an evening with local Republicans!

Local candidates for office will be speaking, as well as representatives for several Republican presidential candidates.

The following 2016 candidates are currently confirmed to be attending:

  • Muskogee County Sheriff: Roger Posey
  • Senate District 9: Dewayne Pemberton
  • House District 13: Avery Frix, Leah Todd, and Al Stevens
  • House District 14: Rep. George Faught
  • House District 16: Scott Fetgatter

Representatives of GOP presidential candidates Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio are coming, with several other campaigns in the process of confirming attendance.

For more information visit this link or email MuskogeeRepublicans@gmail.com.

Music Monday: Liberty Fanfare

This week's Music Monday is John William's Liberty Fanfare.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

House Study Examines Administrative Rules Process



OKLAHOMA CITY - On Wednesday, Rep. George Faught held an Interim Study with the House Committee on Administrative Rules to discuss options for streamlining and improving the Administrative Rules Process. The committee heard testimony from several state agencies and industry stakeholders who expressed concerns about the current method of proposing and reviewing the rules, including the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the State Department of Education, the Secretary of State’s Office, and the Corporation Commission.

Since resuming his position as Chairman of the committee, Rep. Faught noticed serious flaws in the process currently in statute, including confusing and uncertain timelines concerning rule approval dates. While the members of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives Committee on Administrative Rules work diligently throughout the legislative session to personally discuss and review the rules with state agencies and interested parties, the effectiveness of legislative oversight is minimal. Under the current system, the legislature must pass a single resolution, encompassing all agencies rules submitted prior to April 1st, which declares all rules approved and notes any disapproved rules.

For the past two years, the legislature has failed to pass such a resolution. This inaction negates the work of the committee and cedes legislative oversight authority to the Governor. With insight from all perspectives, Rep. Faught plans on proposing legislation to revise the Administrative Procedures Act and repair the current, flawed process.

Rep. Faught said, “We have heard from the members of the legislature, our state agencies, and the people we serve. We realize the system is broken and we can improve it. I commend the Administrative Rules Committee for their tireless work. I am confident that in conjunction with the Senate, we can reach a solution that will enable the legislature to exercise its authority in protecting the people and ensuring more efficient government.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

Music Monday: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name

This week's Music Monday is Tom Fettke's chorale arrangement of Linda Lee Johnson's The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.



The lyrics of the song are inspired by Psalm 8, and testify to both the greatness of God's power in creation, and the greatness of His grace in His relation to mankind.

When I gaze into the night sky,
And see the work of Your fingers.
The moon and stars suspended in space.
But what is man that You are mindful of him?
You have given man a crown of glory and honor.
And have made him a little lower than the angels.
You have put him in charge of all creation;
The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea.
But what is man, oh, what is man
That You are mindful of him?

O Lord, our God the majesty and glory of Your name
Transcends the earth and fills the heavens.
O Lord, our God little children praise Him perfectly.
And so would we, and so would we.
Alleluia, Alleluia. The majesty and glory of Your name!
Alleluia, Alleluia.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pam Pollard wins Special Election for OKGOP Chair



Pam Pollard won the Oklahoma Republican Party chair election held this afternoon in Oklahoma City, and will fill out the rest of Randy Brogdon's two-year term (expiring spring of 2017).

339 state committee members were present in person or by proxy (including 106 from state legislative members).

The tally in the first round of balloting was 163 votes for OFRW President Pam Pollard, 115 for Vice-Chair Estela Hernandez, and 77 for 3rd District Chair Robert Hubbard. There were 16 extra votes cast over the credentialed amount of members, and that surplus left Pollard slightly under the 50%+1 majority, but Estela Hernandez motioned and Robert Hubbard seconded that Pollard be approved as chair by voice vote.

Our thanks to all three for running, congratulations to the new OKGOP Chair, and best wishes on moving the Party forward.

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Pick: Pam Pollard for OKGOP Chair


On Sunday afternoon, members of the Oklahoma Republican Party's State Committee will convene to elect a new chair for the Party.

I was a member of the State Committee for six years (2009-2015), but did not run for reelection at the county convention this spring, so while I do not have a vote any more, I take great interest in the operations of the committee and the state party in general.

As my readers are aware, for the last several years I have made an effort to conduct a survey of the candidates running for OKGOP chair and vice-chair. To date, I have been successful in getting responses from all of the candidates. The survey I did this year was the longest (14 questions) and most detailed yet. -- view it here.

We have a great group of candidates running to finish Randy Brogdon's term, that's for sure.

I have not had much interaction with Estela Hernandez beyond my candidate surveys this year (both the current one and the vice-chair one from this spring). She brings an enthusiasm to the party that we need, and an emphasis on outreach that the Republican Party in general tends to neglect. She has a willingness to be a vocal Republican in a community where it isn't the most popular thing to be.

Some of you may remember that I endorsed and voted for Robert Hubbard in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. During that race, Robert was the only candidate to put aside the political rhetoric and generic platitudes to discuss facts, figures and plans -- that impressed me. Robert also was a financial supporter of my dad's 2012 congressional campaign at a time when most people wanted to sit on the fence and wait. Robert has guts and is willing to stick his neck out, yet gets along with everybody. He's a great guy.

As I said, the State Committee has three great candidates to choose from. My pick for Oklahoma Republican Party Chair is Pam Pollard.


My wife and I have interacted with Pollard since 2008, and always found her to be a ball of GOP-driven energy. She has a fierce dedication to advancing and growing the Republican Party.

The state party is facing some challenges right now. I think Pam Pollard is the best choice to resolve them.

We need a chair who is knowledgeable about the State Party Rules. I can think of no other Republican who knows the party Rules as well as Pam Pollard. The Rules form the basis of how this Party is to operate, and without a good grasp of them, we will flounder (as the immediate past two chairmen have demonstrated). I'm a nut about the Rules (probably one of the few who keep a copy downloaded on my smartphone), but Pam is an even bigger nut about them.

We need a chair who can fundraise. This is a huge part of operating the OKGOP. Matt Pinnell did a fabulous job here as chairman, but Dave Weston and Randy Brogdon struggled. Pam Pollard has a proven record here of success, and I believe can bring alongside others who can help the Party be a financial success again.

We need a chair who can organize conventions. The presidential primary makes 2016 a b-i-g year of conventions. There are precinct meetings, county conventions, District conventions, and the State Convention. The presidential year conventions are different from off-year conventions, as they are focused on electing national convention delegates and presidential electors. Any convention is a difficult thing to put on, and it's even harder for a novice to do (exhibit A: the 2015 state convention). Pam has a great deal of experience here that we need in the chair's office.

Additionally, I believe Pam can unite the Party effectively. We've fractured some over the last year or two, and especially with the "soap opera" of the last few months. We need a chair who bring everyone together and focus them on the main goal - advancing the party principles and platform, electing Republicans to office, and growing the conservative grassroots in this state.

For the Oklahoma Republican Party to be strong again, we need an experienced leader.

That leader is Pam Pollard.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cruz raises $12.2M in Q3, $26.5M since joining race


Cruz “Sustainers” Fuel the Field Operation Each Month

HOUSTON, Texas -- The Cruz for President campaign today announced it has raised $26.5 million since its campaign launch six months ago, with just over $12.2 million coming in during the third quarter. The campaign showed sustained momentum by doubling its total donations during the period, receiving 185,000 Q3 contributions for a total of more than 362,000 over the course of the campaign. The average donation during the third quarter was $66.

The campaign has also secured more than 6,000 “sustainers” – donors who have pledged to give a recurring monthly amount to the campaign. The sustainers provide enough recurring revenue to cover all expenses every month for Cruz’s entire field operation across the country, which includes the first four early states, as well as the 23 additional states and territories where the campaign is currently organized. In September, the campaign announced it has named more than 500 leadership team members throughout the nation, far ahead of any other Republican candidate in the race.

“We are thrilled to see a grassroots wave of support for our campaign gaining momentum all over the country,” Cruz said. “Not only are we seeing a surge of new donors and recurring donors to our campaign, but also continued growth of our organizations in the early states and all across the country. Americans are ready for real change, and I am ready to stand with them to take on the Washington Cartel and return power to the American people. We have both the financial and organizational resources to compete for the long haul and to take our optimistic message all across the country.”

Cruz has one or more donors from 58 percent of the zip codes in America, a 10 percent growth from the second quarter.

In the last 24 hours of the quarter, the campaign raised more than $1 million, following the similar $1 million surge in fundraising that was generated in the 48 hours following the second debate.

Cruz continues to stand at the top of GOP leaders in social engagement, which remains crucial to targeting new and low-dollar donors. More than 2,602,036 unique visitors have come to Cruz’s website since the campaign launch. He has also gathered more than 418 million impressions on Facebook, more than 215.6 million impressions on Twitter, and has been tweeted about more than 6 million times since the campaign launch.


Comment from the Blogger: Cruz raised just over $10M in Q2, and another $4.3M in Q1 when he launched his campaign.    

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Samaritan Ministries: insurance alternative for Christians

With the next health insurance open enrollment starting on November 1st, many people will be looking into getting insurance or switching plans. With ObamaCare changing how health insurance works, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find plans that actually work, are usable, and don't cost an arm and a leg. For Christians, there's the added question of supporting companies that pay for abortions and other immoral and unbiblical practices.

I'd like to present another option for you...


... get out of traditional health insurance altogether!

Before you think I'm nuts, let me introduce you to Samaritan Ministries.

My wife and I have been members of Samaritan Ministries since December of 2012. Samaritan Ministries is a not-for-profit religious organization classified as a health-care sharing ministry, and is not traditional "health insurance".

Samaritan Ministries and similar organizations are an innovative free-market non-insurance solution to today's healthcare needs. They satisfy the 'ObamaCare'/Affordable Care Act's requirement to purchase health insurance or pay a tax-penalty. Unlike health insurance, you can sign up at any time, not just during an enrollment period.



Samaritan Ministries is Biblical

Galatians 6:2 says "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." It is out of this principle that health-care sharing ministries like Samaritan operate. Applying this principle to health-care expenses results in the Body of Christ operating as it did in the days of the Early Church -- encouraging fellow believers in difficult situations through prayer and sharing the load.

Samaritan Ministries operates on Biblically-based foundational principles:
1. Jesus Christ is the only adequate Provider for every need we have
2. A medical need (or any other need) involves more than money
3. Believers in Jesus Christ are responsible to first use the resources He has given us to meet the needs of ourselves and our families
4. The local church should be the next “line of defense” to provide for the needs of its own members
5. God created man as His image bearer and the crown of His creation.

To be a member of Samaritan Ministries, you must be a professing Christian, agree to the Samaritan Ministries Statement of Faith, be a regularly attending member of a church, agree to certain moral standards (dealing with alcohol, tobacco, and sexual activity), and have your pastor or church leader sign a testimonial form. You can view the Application Form here, and the Guidelines here.

In the monthly mailing sent to members, Samaritan Ministries includes a daily prayer guide for the month listing different prayer requests and medical needs that members have. Prayer is important to Samaritan Ministries - one of their mottoes is "Send a note, Pay your share, Always stay alert in prayer."

Samaritan Ministries is Affordable

Cost is a big factor in dealing with healthcare and insurance. Samaritan Ministries is very affordable and simple to understand. There are four basic monthly levels, with discounts when one or both heads of household are under 26:

  • Single: $180 ($140 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $220 / $180 
  • Couple: $360 ($280 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $440 / $360
  • Parents with kids (3+ person family): $405 ($355 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $495 / $445
  • Widowed or divorced with children: $250 ($200 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $305 / $255

11 months out of the year, you send your monthly "Share" directly to a fellow member with a medical "Need". Once a year, your monthly Share is sent to the Samaritan Ministries office for administrative costs - the only time money is not directly sent to a fellow member.

The amounts are only changed by a super-majority vote of the membership.

Samaritan Ministries is Usable

For medical "Needs" that meet the Guidelines, you are responsible for the first $300. Any amount after that is shared with other Samaritan members. If you receive any discounts on your medical bills, that discount is taken out of your personal responsibility amount, so it's very easy to essentially cancel out that $300. Samaritan Ministries partners with The Karis Group to negotiate reductions on large bills. More on that in a bit.

After your first three medical needs submitted in a year, the $300 personal responsibility sum is waived for successive needs that year. Theoretically, whether you have three medical needs in a year (that meet the Guidelines) or ten, it's just $900 that won't be shared.

Here's a personal example. In June, I had an emergency appendectomy. Total cost for my procedure and hospital stay was in the ballpark of $33,000. I explained to the hospital that I was a self-pay patient (briefly went through how Samaritan Ministries works), and received a 20% discount. Samaritan hooked me up with The Karis Group, and they were able to negotiate a 35% discount instead of my initial 20% reduction. On some of the other bills, I was able to get between 20% and 40% marked off by being self-pay. All told, my original cost of around $33,000 was reduced to around $22,000, and every penny was shared by Samaritan members across the country.

Cards and checks received from about 55 Samaritan Ministries families across the country
My wife's [uneventful] pregnancy and [very eventful, emergency c-section] delivery in July cost an initial $15,000. After self-pay reductions of around 40%, the final total was around $11,500 -- and again, every penny is being shared by Samaritan Ministries families across the country.

Another plus to Samaritan Ministries is that you're not restricted to certain physicians and medical providers -- you can go wherever you want! Remember "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"? That's actually true with health-care sharing ministries.

Currently, over 49,000 families (nearly 160,000 individuals) participate in Samaritan Ministries. In September 2015, there were 4,407 medical needs being shared with a grand total of $13,915,033 (approximately $3,157 per need). So far this year, about $100,000,000.00 worth of medical needs has been shared by Samaritan members.

To read more on how the need submitting process works, see my post from March, when we submitted our first medical need - Samaritan Ministries works: our experience. For some more in-depth details, see my page devoted to this topic: Samaritan Ministries -- Health-Care Sharing.

More Information 

Currently, there are nearly 50,000 families participating in Samaritan Ministries. For more information about why they do, visit SamaritanMinistries.org. You can view videos, testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions, the Guidelines, the Application Form, and much more. 

If you are interested in joining, I'd be more than happy to talk with you about our experience. You can call me anytime at (918) 869-6000, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. If the information I've given you is helpful, and you decide to join Samaritan Ministries, I'd greatly appreciate it if you would put me down as your referral when you fill out your Application Form (Samaritan Ministries gives members a referral credit).

I hope that our experience has been helpful and given you useful information about health-care sharing ministries, and Samaritan Ministries in particular.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Music Monday: Elgar's "Enigma" Finale

This week's Music Monday post is the Finale from Edward Elgar's "Enigma" variations.

Enjoy!

Chick-fil-A Muskogee opens Thursday!


Chick-fil-A's Muskogee branch plans to open on Thursday (the 8th).

I'm trying to constrain my excitement.

I will definitely be patronizing Muskogee's newest restaurant on Thursday!!