In a joint statement, House Speaker Kris Steele and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said they plan to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the new law. The nation’s highest court is expected to rule later this year on a challenge by several states that the law is unconstitutional.
Because of fierce opposition in Oklahoma to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, lawmakers have been struggling with how to comply with a requirement that states implement some type of health care exchange, or online insurance marketplace. Last year, the Republican-controlled Legislature rejected $54 million in federal money to set up the state exchange, in part because of bitter opposition from tea party activists and other conservatives.
“There are many common-sense solutions conservatives can agree on to lower the cost of healthcare, expand access and choices to more individuals, and increase the quality of our care — all through tried-and-true principles of the free market,” Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, the co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Federal Health Care Law, said in a statement.
“These are ideas worth pursuing, and we eagerly await the Supreme Court’s repeal of ObamaCare so we can begin the very serious business of addressing our healthcare challenges with solutions that expand freedom instead of government.”
Gov. Mary Fallin said she supports the Legislature’s decision and remains hopeful the court will strike down the law.
“I accept the Legislature’s decision and I remain extremely hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will do the right thing and rule the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional,” Fallin said in a statement. “In the event that it does not, I still believe that establishing a free market, Oklahoma-based online health insurance marketplace that protects consumer choice is the best defense against a federally run exchange.”
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, is President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement and is the most far-reaching domestic legislation in a generation. It aims to provide health insurance to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans by requiring individuals to buy health insurance starting in 2014, by expanding Medicaid and by applying other provisions, many yet to take effect.
Republicans, including many state attorneys general, say the law is unconstitutional. Several states, including Oklahoma, have challenged the constitutionality of its key provision requiring individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.