Patrick B. McGuigan
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, a Sapulpa Republican, celebrated what he deemed another week of progress for the conservative policy agenda he and other members of the Grand Old Party promised to voters in last November’s election.
Bingman stuck by his decision last week not to hear House Bill 2130, a measure to create an Oklahoma health exchange that had support from Governor Mary Fallin and Speaker of the House Kris Steele.
The pro tem said, “we’ve had beneficial discussions this week. We are working on what we all want, which is an Oklahoma-based program that looks out for Oklahoma interests.” Asked if proposals for a health care compact might serve as a vehicle for the next stage of deliberation, he said, he replied carefully, saying the Senate would “certainly entertain, and look to other states to work out compacts with them.”
Reporters asked if Bingman was pursuing ideas to have the insurance industry run an Oklahoma exchange. He said, “We want to get their input.” He said the interest of some in the insurance business in such an approach did not influence last week’s decision not to hear H.B. 2130.
Reporters asked what the time frame for further work on the exchange might be. Bingman replied, “We met yesterday. We will try work diligently to get that done.” Concerning use of federal funds – or not – to develop an Oklahoma exchange, Sen. Bingman said, “The money for developing an exchange is a separate issue from out meetings thus far.”
Encouraged to outline the principles he is looking for in an acceptable exchange, Sen. Bingman said he hopes “to use resources locally, and my preference would be to get private industry involved.”
He stressed, in response to questions, “We don’t want to eliminate anyone from the process at this point.”
An hour or so after Senator Bingman’s session with reporters, an attempt was made in the Senate Insurance and Retirement Committee, to move forward with an alternative health exchange vehicle, by adding it to House Bill 1996. At first, the move to do so prevailed.
Then, Sen. Greg Treat of Edmond made a motion to reconsider the first vote. At that point, fusing the health exchange language into H.B. 1996 failed on a 4-4 vote.