Fallin says no to state health exchange
BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
11/20/12 at 9:06 AM
Read the Tulsa World continuing coverage of the health care law.
Related Story: Fallin rejects health-care exchange
Original Print Headline: Dark day
In one of the most disappointing announcements to come out of the governor's office in years, Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday said she will not "pursue the creation of a state-based exchange or participate in the Medicaid expansion" called for in the federal health-care reform act known as Obamacare.
In recent months, Fallin indicated she was closely conferring with the many involved stakeholders in her decision-making process. Her Monday announcement suggests she listened to only one side.
Fallin has informed U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius that Oklahoma will not pursue the health insurance exchange, noting that such an effort would be " 'state-run' in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement."
She also announced her decision not to participate in Medicaid expansion, which advocates said would have led to as many as 200,000 uninsured Oklahomans receiving coverage. Fallin claims the expansion would cost the state 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," she continued, adding that "massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would require cuts to important government priorities such as education and public safety."
Never mind that there was compelling evidence to the contrary on all points Fallin made. Those relevant and persuasive claims, it seems, fell on deaf ears. So what is Oklahoma going to do? Two things, according to Fallin: Support Attorney General Scott Pruitt's ongoing legal challenge of Obamacare and continue "to pursue state-based solutions that improve health outcomes and contain costs for Oklahoma families."
And how have those efforts worked out so far? How effective are those state-based solutions Fallin and company are always touting? Just take a look at the levels of uninsured Oklahomans, the levels of serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the levels of tobacco use, the levels of uncompensated care ... etc., etc.
It is disappointing in the extreme that Fallin fell in with the anti-Obama chorus that continues to repeat the usual mantras about health-care reform without giving any consideration whatsoever to other claims and analyses: that health reform could actually save the state money in offsets, that a healthier work force means a better economy, that our tax dollars now will go to help residents of other states, that our health-care facilities will continue to drown in uncompensated care costs, that taxpayers and rate-payers will continue to face escalating costs due to cost-shifting ... etc., etc.
We had hopes that Fallin truly was looking out for the well-being of all Oklahomans. Now those hopes are dashed. It's a dark day in Oklahoma.
Gov. Mary Fallin talks over the Supreme Court health-care ruling at the state Capitol on June 28. On Monday, Fallin rejected a state-based exchange and said the state will not participate in the Medicaid expansion. PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND / The Oklahoman file