CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
In a statement circulated Wednesday evening, freshman Republican representatives are encouraging state officials not to accept federal funds promised to Oklahoma under an “Early Innovator” grant authorized by the federal Affordable Care Act.
In February, the House approved House Bill 2130, which establishes a state health insurance exchange. The bill did not include a provision to accept or deny the $54 million grant.
“What we voted for was a free-market exchange based on choice and competition, which will ultimately lower health care costs,” said Rep. Randy Grau, an Edmond Republican. “We did not vote to accept federal money that may require us to set up a federal health care system.”
“Since the vote on HB 2130, it has become increasingly apparent that we cannot accept this money without also accepting the strings attached to it,” said Rep. Elise Hall of Oklahoma City. “It is time to go on record that we do not want this money, but instead, we want to set up an exchange that is right for Oklahoma, not Washington D.C.”
“We join Senator Tom Coburn and many conservative organizations in supporting health insurance exchanges like that established in Utah,” said Rep. Tom Newell of Seminole. “But we think it is important to sever any ties to ObamaCare, which means that the federal funds need to be rejected.”
ObamaCare has become shorthand for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
“The idea of an exchange based upon free-market principles comes from the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank,” said Rep. Sean Roberts, a Republican from Hominy. “The idea was around before President Obama, but it appears he is now trying to use exchanges to push federal health care.”
“We will continue to work with the Governor and House leadership in promoting Oklahoma health care solutions, not Washington D.C. solutions,” said Rep. Marty Quinn of Claremore.
“Many of us in the House campaigned on the platform of free market principles. If we accept federal money with strings attached, we are going back on our word,” said Rep. Josh Cockroft, a Tecumseh member of the Republican caucus. “It is time for us to sever any ties to ObamaCare and allow the private sector to thrive under these free market principles.”
“I strongly support the private sector and oppose ObamaCare and the use of federal money for a health care exchange,” said Rep. Dennis Casey of Morrison.
“The state must learn to stop accepting federal money and let Oklahomans take care of Oklahoma,” said Rep. Aaron Stiles of Norman.
“The attachment of the federal money and its link to federal health care was not fully recognized before the vote on the exchange,” said Rep. Dustin Roberts, who is from Durant.
“Clarification of the issue seems to tie federal grant money to the ObamaCare effort,” said Rep. Jadine Nollan of Sand Springs. “I support an Oklahoma health insurance exchange without any federal ties.”