Governor Mary Fallin says 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.
Fallin made the announcement Monday. The Republican governor says the exchange was "forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama administration."
"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 in a news release.
It's now up to the federal government to set up the insurance exchange in Oklahoma.
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 set up a state-run exchange after bitter opposition from grass-roots activists and conservative members of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber issued the following statement:
The Tulsa Metro Chamber is dedicated to the economic prosperity of Oklahoma and the Tulsa region. Our leadership, along with community and business leaders around the region, considered expanded Medicaid funding as a solution to our critical health care needs. Together, we chose to support accepting this expansion on the regional OneVoice agenda. Ideally, the Chamber would've liked to have seen Gov. Fallin recognize the possible benefits of expanded Medicaid funding. 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. We encourage Gov. Fallin and legislative leaders, through proactive discussions with the health care community, to pursue the best flexible option for the future of health care in Oklahoma. We also plan to work closely with our legislators and Gov. Fallin to identify and implement the best plan for Oklahoma, supporting healthy Oklahomans, a healthy workforce and a healthy economy.