Governor Mary Fallin joined other state leaders today in announcing that the state of Oklahoma will accept a $54 million grant to help design and implement the information technology infrastructure to operate an Oklahoma health insurance exchange. Fallin listed the creation of such an exchange as one of her top priorities in her State of the State address earlier this month. She and others announced their support for the grant after working with state agencies to ensure that no unworkable federal mandates were included.
Governor Mary Fallin: "After thoroughly reviewing the "early innovator' grant, I am happy to say that the federal assistance we are being offered is consistent with our mission to design and implement an Oklahoma-based health insurance exchange. That exchange will empower consumers and help individuals and small businesses to shop for and enroll in affordable, quality health insurance plans. This is a step in the right direction for Oklahoma and its citizens."
House Speaker Kris Steele: "This opportunity will remove the obstacles many people face in obtaining health insurance and allow many more Oklahomans to become insured. This would not only improve the overall health of our state, it will also empower and equip patients to invest in their own healthcare needs and outcomes."
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman: "Real solutions to our health care needs are best found through market-based principals of choice and competition. The health insurance exchange empowers Oklahomans with those free-market tools. This early innovator grant will allow Oklahoma to put in place the necessary technological infrastructure that makes these plans accessible to citizens of our state."
Insurance Commissioner John Doak: "The Insurance Department, with its industry, consumer protection and regulatory expertise, will play an important role in the design and implementation of a health insurance exchange. I and Deputy Commissioner of Health Insurance Mike Rhoads will take a lead in making sure insurance agents and brokers have a voice in setting up the health insurance exchange. I look forward to working with Gov. Fallin in facilitating meetings throughout the state that will result in good regulation and input from licensed insurance agents and brokers."
Secretary of Health and Human Services Terry Cline: "Not only will Oklahoma be engaged in a transformational process in developing our own health insurance exchange, we have an opportunity to be a model for the country, and we are pleased to take on that challenge."
Oklahoma Healthcare Authority CEO Mike Fogarty: "This grant is a federal acknowledgment of the foresight and guidance of Oklahoma's leaders. This state being one of only seven grantees confirms our role as a leader in this nation. Our online enrollment and other access initiatives predated federal health reform and have now afforded us the opportunity to build a system fit for this state and its citizens."