OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma will not establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the federal health care law or expand its Medicaid eligibility to provide coverage to thousands of low-income, uninsured citizens, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday.
The Republican governor's move puts Oklahoma's insurance exchange, required under the health care reform law, in the hands of the federal government.
"This choice has been forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama administration," Fallin said.
Fallin, who cited the potential costs to the state of operating a health insurance exchange, also rejected the idea of a federal-state partnership in operating the exchange.
Fallin's decision drew immediate praise from conservative groups and lawmakers who have railed against the federal health care law and have urged the governor to resist any attempt to implement its requirements in Oklahoma.
"Oklahomans simply do not want anything to do with Obamacare, and Senate Republicans stand firmly with the governor in rejecting it," Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said in a statement. "We want real, conservative solutions to the rising cost of healthcare we want to make care more accessible, more affordable, and easier to obtain."
Hospitals and chambers of commerce had urged Fallin to support both a state-run exchange and the expansion of Medicaid.