OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday she will not pursue the creation of a state-based insurance health exchange or participate in the Medicaid expansion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
A decision on the matter was expected Friday, but an extension was issued Thursday evening by the Obama administration after many Republican governors said they needed more time to make up their minds.
The health insurance exchange is an online marketplace where many of the uninsured would be required to buy health insurance.
The PPACA, known to many as ObamaCare, tasks states with setting up their own exchanges, and if they don't the federal government will step in and set up an exchange.
“For the past few months, my staff and I have worked with other lawmakers, Oklahoma stakeholders and health care experts across the country to determine the best course of action for Oklahoma in regards to both the creation of a health insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act," she said. "Our priority has been to ascertain what can be done to increase quality and access to health care, contain costs and do so without placing an undue burden on taxpayers or the state."
Fallin said she doesn't believe the PPACA will further those goals, and instead will decrease the quality of health care across the country while contributing to the nation's growing deficit crisis.
“Despite my ongoing opposition to the federal health care law, the state of Oklahoma is legally obligated to either build an exchange that is PPACA compliant and approved by the Obama Administration, or to default to an exchange run by the federal government," said Fallin. "This choice has been forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama Administration in spite of the fact that voters have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to the federal health care law through their support of State Question 756, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the implementation of key components of PPACA."
Fallin said she's been in contact with U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius, informing her that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of its own health insurance exchange.
"Any exchange that is PPACA compliant will necessarily be ‘state-run’ in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement," said Fallin. "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."
The governor already rejected a $54 million federal grant that would have helped the state set up the exchange.
Fallin has also rejected the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid, which she says would be unaffordable and would cost the state to $475 million between now and 2020. Fallin says it would also further the state's reliance on federal funds that may not be available in the future given the economy.
"On a state level, massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would require cuts to important government priorities such as education and public safety," said Fallin. "Furthermore, 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."
Fallin says moving forward the state will support Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's legal challenge of the PPACA and the state will pursue state-based solutions to improve health outcomes and contain costs for Oklahomans.
“The governor’s decision secures our ability to continue the state’s lawsuit, challenging implementation of the health care law and fighting this administration’s attempt to overstep the boundaries of the law,” Pruitt said of Fallin's decision.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Also in the headlines
Thousands of residents are cleaning up all over Oklahoma, but not just in Moore.