Senator Bingman says health care exchange (H.B. 2130) won’t be heard

In his regular briefing for Capitol reporters today (Thursday, March 31), Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said the upper chamber would not consider House Bill 2130, the controversial measure designed to start the process of aligning Oklahoma with new federal health care exchange provisions. 

 Bingman told reporters, “I don’t think we’re going to be hearing that bill. Republicans in the Senate are not for ObamaCare. We want to support the lawsuit to fight ObamaCare. … As this was discussed, we decided to slow that process down.”

 The top Republican in the upper chamber said the issue will probably come back, but clearly in a different form. He said, “We will work with the House and the governor, and work out an exchange that is right for Oklahoma.” Bingman said policymakers might use “private or state resources, to put together our own exchange without the federal strings. 

 The Sapulpa Republican told reporters the Senate would fashion a measure in collaboration with the state Insurance Department and that Senators would work to include the state Insurance Department. One goal is to “fashion sunset provisions so that the issue of federal control could be readdressed if we need to do that.” 

 Reporters pressed Bingman on reasons for the spiking the bill, three days after Governor Mary Fallin included it in her list of bills she hoped legislators would “fast track” for her signature.

 Bingman explained the outcome was the result of “study of the issue.” He said that Senator Clark Jolley of Edmond, a fellow Republican and the bill’s sponsor, “was concerned about moving forward. Decisions along the way were made based on the information being provided to us.”

 Bingman said concerns about the federal grant for designing an exchange, “and the strings attached” led to the consensus to rethink the issue. 

 CapitolBeatOK asked if Senate Bill 722 could provide a framework for a fresh approach, Sen. Bingman said he could not answer yet, but would be studying the matter. S.B. 722, if enacted, would create the framework to allow Oklahoma to join a voluntary compact among states as a different approach to governance of health care policy.

 Monday, while reiterating her opposition to the federal law, Governor Fallin contended the state had to enact an exchange to avoid leaving policy development to the federal government. 
 She asserted, “A vote against House Bill 2130 would be a vote to allow ObamaCare to come to Oklahoma. I don’t want that.” 

 In today’s exchange with reporters, Senator Bingman said he had not discussed the issue with the chief executive: “I have not spoken to her directly about this, but I believe she is rethinking the issue, as we are.”