By Wayne Greene
Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday rejected state participation in a health care exchange and expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
The decision means Oklahoma will not do anything to accommodate the controversial federal health care law — known as “Obamacare” — but it also means the state will skip an opportunity to help some 693,000 uninsured Oklahomans, 18.7 percent of the state population, get coverage through the federal government.
“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,” Fallin said. “Furthermore, I have also decided that Oklahoma will not be participating in the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid.”
Any exchange that is compliant with the federal health care law will necessarily be state-run in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement, Fallin said.
“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,” she said.