Monday, November 19, 2012

Updated: Oklahoma Will Not Pursue a State-Based Exchange or Medicaid Expansion

Speaker-Designate Shannon Applauds Decision

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today released the following statement announcing 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):

“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.”

Speaker-Designate T.W. Shannon Comments:

Oklahoma House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon released the following statement today in response to the announcement by Gov. Mary Fallin above.

“I applaud Gov. Fallin for her courage in taking a stand for the people of Oklahoma. Oklahomans have long opposed Obamacare because they recognize how intrusive and unworkable the law is going to be. Our Medicaid program is already unsustainable and needs to be reformed at the state level with solutions that reflect our unique challenges.

“Regarding the health insurance exchanges, it is important to understand that even if we were to create an exchange, the rules are written in Washington, D.C. and the exchanges are going to be controlled by the federal government. The law does not give the state enough flexibility to create an exchange model that would work for Oklahomans.

“Any state initiated exchange as allowed for under Obamacare would require Oklahoma to create a massive new bureaucracy and would enable new federal taxes on our employers. I am confident the lawsuit filed by Oklahom’s Attorney General to mitigate the harmful consequences of Obamacare is going to succeed, and the unworkability of the law will lead to its repeal.

“It is increasingly evident that reform will come from the state level. Oklahoma has drawn a line in the sand, and I am proud to stand with Gov. Fallin and our citizens to continue leading the fight against a federal government that increasingly overreaches and tramples the rights of individuals and the states.”

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