In an interview with FOX News host Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday, Gov. Mary Fallin explained why she didn’t want the state to set up a health care exchange and her decision to reject Medicaid expansion.
Here is a transcript provided by the show, “On the Record.”
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Obamacare may be the law of the land but that is not stopping many Republican governors. They are still keeping up their fight.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is one of those governors, and Oklahoma is just one of the states refusing to create its own health care exchange.
Governor Fallin joins us. Nice to see you, governor.
GOV. MARY FALLIN, (R) OKLAHOMA: Nice to see you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me, why do you not want to set up a stated exchange and defer to the default one?
FALLIN: Well, basically Oklahoma said thanks but no thanks.
We philosophically have a disagreement where the Obama administration and the affordable healthcare act. And in the state of Oklahoma, they voted by a large margin, almost 65 percent, that we oppose many portions of the affordable health care act. It was put into our constitution.
And, of course, we’ve had a decision to make. We’d had a deadline in which we were to decide upon which course of the action we were going to take. And we feel like if we would have set up a state-based exchange, it would have been a state-based exchange in name only because I am hearing from other governors who have tried to set up a stated based exchange that have had them for couple years, and that the administration is now saying that doesn’t qualify for what we’re looking for state-based exchange. We don’t want to do the federal partnership either. So we’re going to default and say, you are forcing something upon the state of Oklahoma that we did not support. We still do not support. It is a federal law so we’ll let the federal government do their thing, do what they’re going to do in Oklahoma.
VAN SUSTEREN: What I don’t understand from the governors is this.
If a state exchange by federal rules, but you have to pay for it, why not let the federal government do it? I don’t know why all the governors don’t let the federal government pay for it since they set up the rules and they say they can do it and uniform. I don’t get what the state gets out of it except a bill?
FALLIN: That’s right. We don’t know what the Bill is going to be. I appreciate Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. We talked about it and we talked about how important it is governors have answers to questions that we don’t know all the details yet on what is expected from the state, especially as it relates to setting up the exchanges and even the Medicaid expansion itself. Her comment was, we’re working on the rulings. She issued some rules today and general parameters.
But it’s hard to make a decision about something that affects the state budget and our outcome when we don’t know what the rules of the game are. Of course, they are telling us just go ahead and set up the state exchange and we’ll tell you whether we approve it or not, but that just doesn’t work.
The other thing I’m worried about we know that United States is heading off a fiscal cliff. Congress is going back into a lame duck session. We don’t know what is going to be happening between now and the end of the year other than we know we have a huge fiscal crisis on our hands. We know there will be a lot of tax increases going into effect.
Americans are going to be shocked when January comes and many things are going to trigger, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts or increases in affordable health care act and penalties. There are so many things that are going to trigger to increase taxes not only on individuals but businesses and certainly even upon state budgets.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is overriding all of this, the reason we’re going off the fiscal cliff is because a year and a half ago the Congress and president and Senate didn’t do this work and so they pushed us up against a deadline. The reason you don’t know what is happening with the state guidelines, they had a healthcare claw law for two years. I know you used to be a member of Congress, but nobody is doing any work to get anything done. Frankly, if you don’t know what the rules are, how can you set up the exchange on the promise they are going to do it right later when frankly they don’t have a history of doing things right?
FALLIN: I don’t think they’re going to have the money to do it in the first place. We’re in trouble as a nation. When I questioned Secretary Sebelius about the rules, I said you have been a governor, I’m a governor I’m making decisions based upon the current information that I have. I’m not sure how much it is going to cost me. We estimate it’s going to cost the state of Oklahoma hundreds of millions of dollars, and that money has to come from some somewhere.
And then we could go into another recession if Congress doesn’t get its act together. It’s uncertain for my state and for the nation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you. I hope this gets sorted out soon, but I’m not holding my breath.
FALLIN: Nice to see you, too.