Oklahoma rejects Obamacare

Governor Mary Fallin today announced that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of a state-based exchange or participate in the Medicaid expansion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Fallin said, “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. 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. 

"As I have stated many times before, it is my firm belief that PPACA fails to further these goals, and will in fact decrease the quality of health care across the United States 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. 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.

“After careful consideration, I have today informed U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius 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. 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.

“Furthermore, I have also decided that Oklahoma will not be participating in the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid. Such an expansion would be unaffordable, costing the state of Oklahoma up to $475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years. It would also further Oklahoma’s reliance on federal money that may or may not be available in the future given the dire fiscal problems facing the federal government. On a state level, massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would require cuts to important government priorities such as education and public safety. 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.

“Moving forward, the state of Oklahoma will pursue two actions simultaneously. The first will be to continue our support for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s ongoing legal challenge of PPACA. General Pruitt’s lawsuit raises different Constitutional questions than previous legal challenges, and both he and I remain optimistic that Oklahoma’s challenge can succeed.  

“Our second and equally important task will be to pursue state-based solutions that improve health outcomes and contain costs for Oklahoma families. Serious reform, for instance, should be pursued in the area of Medicaid and public health, where effective chronic disease prevention and management programs could address the trend of skyrocketing medical bills linked to avoidable hospital and emergency room visits. I look forward to working with legislative leaders and lawmakers in both parties to pursue Oklahoma health care solutions for Oklahoma families.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman in response to Governor Fallin’s announcement said, “Oklahomans simply do not want anything to do with Obamacare, and Senate Republicans stand firmly with Governor Fallin in rejecting it.”

Bingman, R-Sapulpa said, “We want real, conservative solutions to the rising cost of healthcare—we want to make care more accessible, more affordable, and easier to obtain.  I continue to believe Obamacare will fall short of accomplishing these goals—but it will certainly accomplish one of President Obama’s goals: to grow government and redefine its size, scope, and reach into the lives of our fellow Oklahomans.

“Senate Republicans have welcomed conservative solutions, but a state-run exchange, one that is ‘compliant’ with Obamacare’s mandates and supervised by Washington bureaucrats, would be ‘state-run’ in name only. On behalf of the Senate Republican caucus, I want to commend Governor Fallin for recognizing that the hard-earned tax dollars of Oklahomans should not go toward another new government program in the form of a vehicle for implementing a law our citizens have soundly, firmly, and unquestionably rejected.

“Moreover, Senate Republicans stand with Governor Fallin in rejecting President Obama’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  We can’t afford it—plain and simple—and it will do more harm than good in the long run by shifting unsustainable, massive costs to the states.  If you believe, as most Oklahomans do, that the federal government simply can’t help itself from driving the car at full speed off a fiscal cliff, you must treat any Obama Administration promise to keep up their end of a bargain with a healthy dose of Reaganesque skepticism.

“We cannot support making Oklahoma more reliant on federal dollars, nor can we support growing our $16 trillion national debt to fund an unsustainable entitlement expansion. Our caucus stands united in this.  We are unified, as well, in our support for Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s continued court challenge of Obamacare.  We believe the fight against Obamacare is a 12-round match—we still have several rounds to go, as General Pruitt’s lawsuit is founded on different Constitutional questions than the already decided legal challenges—and Senate Republicans are committed to ‘going the distance’ on behalf of Oklahomans.

“But, it isn’t enough to reject Obamacare—we know the cost of healthcare is rising, and we know Oklahoma faces unique challenges in public health.  For this reason, Senate Republicans remain committed to truly state-based ideas and common-sense, conservative solutions.  We will continue to look at reforms to Medicaid and continue to explore avenues to deliver affordable coverage to every Oklahoman regardless of individual circumstances.”

For those that may not be following the Obamacare debate closely,  Dr. Barbara Bellar sums the program up in one sentence. Click here to view that video.