Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cockroft Applauds Rejection of Exchange, Medicaid Expansion

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Josh Cockroft today praised Gov. Mary Fallin’s announcement that Oklahoma would reject the expansion of our state Medicaid program as provided for in the federal healthcare reform law and would not begin implementation of an insurance exchange as required under the law.
            “I applaud Governor Fallin for listening to the vast majority of her constituents in making this wise decision. In 2010, nearly 65 percent of Oklahomans voted to oppose the federal government’s takeover of our health care system and Governor Fallin’s decision today reinforces those wishes,” Cockroft said.
            The Tecumseh lawmaker said claims that the choice was between a state-run exchange or a federally run one were false.
            “The reality is that a ‘state’ exchange would not truly be run by the state. Anytime we deal with federal funding, the process is dictated by the guidelines set by the federal government. This means we really wouldn’t get any true input. I want Oklahoma to have control over our health care system, not Washington, D.C.,” Cockroft said.
            Cockroft said the state can’t afford the Medicaid expansion provided for in the Affordable Care Act.
            “We cannot afford the financial burden that expanding Medicaid would bring on the state. An additional half a billion dollars in the next eight years is an irresponsible and foolish burden to take on. It would require further cuts to vital areas of state government such as education, public safety and transportation,” Cockroft said.
            “We must continue standing behind Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s ongoing legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act and searching for local, Oklahoma-grown solutions for the problems we face.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

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

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.”

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