Oklahoma refuses to take action on health insurance law
Controversy has ignited in Oklahoma, where Insurance Commissioner John Doak has announced that the Oklahoma Insurance Department refuses to enforce the Affordable Care Act. The state agency is meant to ensure that the numerous provisions of the federal law are enacted throughout the state, such as the establishment of a health insurance exchange. The Affordable Care Act has been meeting strong resistance in Oklahoma, which may mean that the federal government will be taking over the enactment of the health care law in that state.
Insurance Commissioner Doak will not enforce Affordable Care Act
According to Commissioner Doak, the Oklahoma Insurance Department operates based on the state’s constitution and Legislature. As such, the agency does not have the authority to enact the Affordable Care Act because it is perceived as going far above the state’s own laws. When entering office, Commissioner Doak promised to oppose the Affordable Care Act at every turn, believing it to be a threat to the state’s already balanced health insurance market. The Insurance Department has announced that it will be returning the $1 million it has received in federal grants that were meant to be used to establish a health insurance exchange.
Federal government may take the reins on health insurance reform in Oklahoma
If the Commissioner’s opposition holds, the federal government will be required to take action in the state. Because the issue is being considered a legislative matter rather than one of pure conviction, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be working to ensure that the Affordable Care Act is enacted in the state within the coming months. The core of the matter appears to be, quite simply, that Oklahoma lacks the appropriate legislation that gives the Insurance Department any authority in upholding and enforcing federal laws.
Some lawmakers argue position of Commissioner Doak
The idea that the state agency lacks the appropriate authority to enact federal health insurance provisions has a fair amount of opposition. Oklahoma’s Senate Democratic Leader, Sean Burrage, claims that Commissioner Doak does, in fact, have the capability of enforcing federal law. Burrage suggests that the matter boils down to politics, rather than lack of legislative power. As such, some politicians that support the federal health care law may attempt to propose legislation that will expand the capabilities of the Insurance Department.