Oklahoma legislative panel suggests building a health insurance exchange

Oklahoma Health InsuranceA legislative panel commissioned to determine whether Oklahoma should pursue building its own health insurance exchange system has finally reached a conclusion. The panel released a report to the state’s Legislature recommending action be taken on building an exchange in order to avoid the federal government taking charge and establishing its own. The state has had a rocky history with the concept of the exchange and has been slow to adopt legislation that would make the program possible. The panel is now stressing the importance of building an adequate system if only to avoid federal meddling.

Last year, the panel recommended a framework for a state-run exchange system. The panel now claims that this system, if built, would not comply with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As such, the state is running the risk of federal intervention. The latest report does not call for drastic revisions to the plan, but encourages legislators to seek federal approval in the form of waivers in order to build the exchange the Legislature wants to see.

The state had been awarded $54 million in federal grants to help build the exchange. Governor Mary Fallin had accepted the money readily, hoping to use it to make health insurance an affordable option for many in the state. The Governor retracted her acceptance later due to pressure from the state’s vocal Tea Party. The panel’s report notes that it may be difficult to build an exchange system without financial assistance from the federal government.

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