Democrats Inman, Dorman disappointed in Fallin’s call; Commissioner Doak supportive
Published: November 20th, 2012
Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman, a Del City Democrat, denounced Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion and creation of a state health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act.
In comments sent late yesterday afternoon (November 20) to CapitolBeatOK, Rep. Inman said he was “deeply disappointed and frustrated that Governor Fallin and Republican Leaders have today decided to play politics with the lives, health care and pocket books of thousands of Oklahoma citizens.”
Inman asserted the chief executive’s decision means “that nearly 200,000 Oklahoma men, women and children will be unable to get the health care they need.”
Inman and other critics assert Fallin’s call on the issue means “Oklahoma tax will be sent to places like Maryland, Rhode Island and California” to finance Medicaid expansion.
Further, Inman said that by not creating a state exchange, “she and Republican leaders have simply extended the invitation to the Obama administration to come to our state and do it for us. While many in the House Democratic Caucus may not have supported all of the provisions of the new health care law, we are realistic and understand that Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) words ring true. Whether we like it or not, ‘it’s the law of the land.’ ”
Inman asserted Fallin’s call on the issue was a political decision, focused on protecting Republican leaders from “their right flank” in the 2014 election.
Rep. Joe Dorman also expressed disappointment over the exchange decision. In his statement to CapitolBeatOK, the Rush Springs Democrat said,
“I believe that by failing to act on the implementation of a state-run health care exchange, we are removing ourselves from a process that is going to affect Oklahomans. I am disappointed in Governor Fallin’s decision to take no action at all to maintain local control over certain aspects of this federally-mandated law.
“I also believe that while many Oklahomans rejected the federal health care law, including myself when we were called to vote on fighting it for the original court battle, we cannot legally block it or nullify it because the United States Supreme Court has already ruled it constitutional.
“We also cannot start some kind of costly Don Quixote-style crusade against this when we know it will not be overturned by Congress just so some state politicians can look tough with political posturing, while costing us many more millions of taxpayer dollars. We need to maintain as much local control as possible with the health care law at the state level and leave the battle for changes in this law at the federal level as the “fiscal cliff” looms.”
State Commissioner of Insurance John Doak, a Republican, supported the chief executive in a statement Tuesday afternoon. He commented, “Oklahomans have been very clear about Obamacare. They don’t want it. An overwhelming majority, 65 percent, voted to outlaw individual mandates in 2010. That opposition is just as strong today. In the past two weeks, my office has been flooded with calls from concerned citizens who say they are adamantly against a state-based exchange. I think we should listen to them.”
Doak also expressed “great hope” about state Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s legal challenge to the health care law, signature achevement of President Barack Obama’s first term.
Pruitt contends IRS rules taxing businesses conflict with the ACA’s provisions and violate the federal Administrative Procedures Act. That case is pending in federal district court in Muskogee.Doak said, “It could deal a serious blow to the future of this overreaching law. Obamacare puts the nation’s fiscal stability at risk and violates the rights of individuals and states.”
Doak concluded, “We all agree that our health insurance system needs improvement, but we need to come up with state-based health care solutions that improve the lives of Oklahoma families without sacrificing their individual liberties.”
Republican leaders in the state Legislature united to support Fallin’s announcement yesterday, with Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman of Sapulpa and incoming House Speaker T.W. Shannon strongly endorsing her decision on both the exchange and Medicaid expansion. Both men promised to work toward reforms making insurance more affordable for Oklahomans in need.