Oklahoma Joins States Not Implementing Obamacare Exchanges

OK Governor Mary Fallin

Oklahoma has joined the growing list of states that will not be implementing the Obamacare exchanges for the federal government. According to The Hill, the state won’t be participating in the expensive Medicaid expansion, either.

Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday that she won’t set up a state-based insurance exchange — a new portal where people who don’t get insurance through their employers can shop for coverage, often with help from a federal subsidy.

“It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American healthcare and the fiscal stability of the nation,” Fallin said in a statement.

Republican governors are under pressure from conservatives not to set up their own exchanges. It’s seen as the best chance to stand in the way of the Affordable Care Act now that Obama’s reelection has protected the law from legislative repeal. (Read More)

Other republican governors who indicated their states will not set up exchanges include Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio and Nathan Deal in Georgia. According to the New York Times, there a dozen states that had already decided not to participate. There are even some governors in blue states that might not get on board. This is going to be a big, and much deserved, headache for President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

By declining to build exchanges, the states would pass the burden and costs of the exchanges to the administration that sought this law. And it is far from clear that the administration could operate the exchanges on its own.

Congress didn’t allocate money for administering federal exchanges, and the law as written seems to prohibit federally run exchanges from providing subsidies to individuals. The administration insists that it can provide those subsidies anyway. But if the courts read the plain words of the statute, then federal exchanges couldn’t really function.

Thus states that refuse to create their own exchanges would effectively be repealing a large part of the law—sparing their citizens from the job-killing employer mandate and from assaults on their religious liberty. In some cases people would even be spared from the individual mandate to buy coverage, since in the absence of exchange subsidies more families would qualify for exemptions from the mandate. (Read More)