Tahlequah Daily Press

Get the scoop!

November 20, 2012

Gov. Fallin rejects state health insurance exchange

Tahlequah — OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma will not establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the federal health care law or expand its Medicaid eligibility to provide coverage to thousands of low-income, uninsured citizens, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday.

The Republican governor’s move puts Oklahoma’s insurance exchange, required under the health care reform law, in the hands of the federal government. “This choice has been forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama administration,” Fallin said.

Fallin, who cited the potential costs to the state of operating a health insurance exchange, also rejected the idea of a federal-state partnership in operating the exchange.

Fallin’s decision drew immediate praise from conservative groups and lawmakers who have railed against the federal health care law and have urged the governor to resist any attempt to implement its requirements in Oklahoma.

“Oklahomans do not want anything to do with Obamacare, and Senate Republicans stand with the governor in rejecting it,” Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said in a statement. “We want real, conservative solutions to the rising cost of healthcare — we want to make care more accessible, more affordable, and easier to obtain.”

Hospitals and chambers of commerce had urged Fallin to support both a state-run exchange and the expansion of Medicaid. Hospital officials had argued that health care providers are being forced to absorb the costs of the nearly 20 percent of uninsured Oklahomans who often seek health care services at emergency rooms and are unable to pay.

“Governor Fallin’s decision not to expand the Medicaid program to cover uninsured low-income adults is deeply troubling and unfortunate, putting politics over the interests of Oklahomans,” said David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a Tulsa-based nonprofit that promotes funding for public services. “We are missing a vital opportunity to improve the health of our citizens, bolster the financial situation of our health care providers, and strengthen our state economy.”

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.

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 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.

“Ideally, the chamber would’ve liked to have seen Gov. Fallin recognize the possible benefits of expanded Medicaid funding,” Neal said. “The health of our employees and workforce is integral to our success and therefore is a priority consideration when making decisions that impact our economy.”

Although Fallin did not provide specifics of how Oklahoma plans to deal with the large number of Oklahomans without health insurance, she did cite the state’s Insure Oklahoma program as an example of a “success story” for providing coverage to low-income workers. That program splits the cost of health insurance premiums between the state, employer and employee and currently provides coverage to about 30,000 Oklahomans.

1
Text Only
Get the scoop!
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 18, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks