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November 19, 2012

State-run health care exchange nixed

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was among the state attorneys general who filed a lawsuit alleging the health care law was unconstitutional, and even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the act constitutional, Pruitt amended his lawsuit to challenge its implementation.
In making her decision, Fallin cited Oklahomans’ overwhelming passage in 2010 of a state question that prohibits forced participation in a health care system.
“It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American health care and the fiscal stability of the nation,” Fallin said.
The issue of complying with provisions of the federal health care law has been a politically difficult one for Fallin. Last year, the governor rejected $54 million in federal funding to help set up a state-run exchange after bitter opposition from grass-roots activists and conservative members of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The governor on Monday also rejected the Medicaid expansion, saying Oklahoma couldn’t afford the costs.
“The proposed Medicaid expansion offers no meaningful reform to a massive entitlement program already contributing to the out-of-control spending of the federal government,” she said.
Nearly 20 percent of Oklahoma citizens are currently uninsured, and an expansion of Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would make an additional 180,000 adults eligible for Medicaid, according to the Oklahoma Hospital Association, one of the groups that pushed Fallin to support the Medicaid expansion.
Mike Neal, the president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, which had supported the Medicaid expansion, said the group plans to work with lawmakers and the governor to find alternatives to improve the health of Oklahomans.

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