Oklahoma Gov. Fallin postpones decision on health insurance exchange [Tulsa World, Okla.]
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The governor's office doesn't have a timeline for the announcement, "but we do expect one sooner rather than later," Weintz said from
Friday was originally the deadline for states to notify the
Under the Affordable Care Act, a health insurance exchange is an electronic marketplace where consumers can shop for coverage. Eligible buyers can enroll in
"I believe it's a good decision," said Stanislawski, who was a chairman of a joint legislative committee that studied the exchange issue and related issues last year.
Delaying a decision will give the governor an opportunity to discuss the issue with legislators and fully consider the state's options, he said.
While federal officials still hold out the option for states to establish their own exchange, that seems like a practical impossibility at this point for
The two most likely scenarios would be for the state to refuse to take part in an exchange -- leaving the job to federal officials -- or take part in a jointly administered exchange, a mechanism that isn't actually mentioned in the Affordable Care Act, but which is being pushed by federal officials as an option.
The Thursday announcement by Sebelius also clarified that states that opt not to operate their own exchanges initially can take over the process in the future.
Friday's delay came after a period of intense lobbying of Fallin by those on both sides of the politically hot issue.
Weintz said Fallin's office received more than 1,000 calls on the issue Thursday with a variety of opinions expressed, but the majority opposed an exchange.
"The establishment of a health insurance exchange is just a way for the federal government to force Obamacare onto the states, and Oklahomans have overwhelmingly opposed this government takeover of health care from the beginning," said Rep.
Ritze pointed out that State Question 756, which outlaws individual mandates in the state, passed with 65 percent support in 2010.
"Obamacare is deeply unpopular here," Ritze said. "Just because
"That would only serve to benefit the citizens of the state and for our public officials to even have to think about it is a real travesty in their duty as public officials," Webster said.
She said she suspected it had more to do with
Fallin has had a rocky history on the exchange issue. Shortly after she took office, Fallin agreed to accept a
Ultimately, Fallin and Republican leaders were unable to get a legal structure for an exchange through
Fallin's decision leaves the state's federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in limbo.
Also unresolved by Fallin is the arguably larger question of whether the state should accept
If accepted by the state, the federal program would make everyone who lives in a household under 133 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for
That would mean an estimated 200,000 uninsured Oklahomans would become eligible for
After that, the Affordable Care Act shifts a portion of the costs to states, capping at 10 percent in 2020, but some conservatives have pointed to evidence that more costs could be shifted to the states.
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