The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 27, 2012

Fallin’s filibuster: Stop the grandstanding and do what is best for Oklahoma

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Implementation of Obama’s health care law is a huge philosophical issue. And its unknown ramifications are divisive and troublesome to say the least.

We wonder if our country can afford so-called “Obamacare.” Though it’s unpopular in Oklahoma, it’s the law of the land.

We’re also troubled Gov. Mary Fallin’s office won’t release emails detailing her health care decision by citing executive privilege.

To review: First, Fallin accepted, then rejected, $54 million in federal money to help set up new online insurance marketplaces — or exchanges — where people could comparison-shop for health insurance.

She then delayed implementation while waiting for the results of a Supreme Court challenge, a decision that declared the law constitutional.

Most recently, Fallin wrongly assumed the election would change the equation.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Attorney Gen. Scott Pruitt is trying to derail Obamacare by challenging the placement of Oklahoma residents into the federal exchange (an appropriate pursuit in the proper forum).

After more delay tactics, Fallin announced Oklahoma won’t establish a state-run exchange or expand its Medicaid eligibility to provide coverage to thousands of low-income, uninsured citizens.

We don’t like uncertainty and anxiety of the unknown. Citizens need information about Fallin’s decision, and openness and transparency would help explain the situation.

Frankly speaking, Fallin needs to act less like a member of Congress and more like a governor. Congress has authority to provide for the general welfare of the United States.

With all due respect, the state’s chief executive can’t re-craft federal policy.

According to The Oklahoman, Fallin’s Medicaid decision rejected $3.6 billion in federal funding over seven years for Oklahoma.

Even though we have opposed Obamacare, we should embrace the Medicaid funding to provide health care to Oklahomans.

Washington pays for everything the first three years, phasing down gradually to 90 percent, The Associated Press reports.

Chambers of commerce and hospitals urged Fallin to support both Medicaid expansion and the state-run exchange.

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute think tank, about 150,000 Oklahomans will be stuck in a “coverage crater” without it.

“Not expanding Medicaid also means that federal taxes paid by Oklahomans will be spent on health care in other states, not here in Oklahoma,” OPI Director David Blatt said in a statement.

Help uninsured Oklahomans and aid the state financially. We’d be better off with the feds footing the bill than forcing hospitals and doctors to treat these uninsured residents and write it off as a charity case.