Commissioner Doak returns federal grant, urges approval of SB 722 creating health care compacts

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Insurance Department formally notified federal officials this month that it is returning nearly $1 million in ObamaCare funds, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak announced Tuesday, while urging Gov. Mary Fallin to sign legislation that would reaffirm Oklahoma's control over health care issues. "This is the fulfillment of my campaign promise to protect Oklahomans by opposing ObamaCare every way I can and of the commitment I made in April to return the ObamaCare funds," Doak said. The $1 million grant, which was received in August 2010, provided funding for the Insurance Department to conduct health insurance premium rate reviews to identify what the federal legislation said were "...unreasonable and unjustified and/or excessive rate increases." Nearly $20,000 of the $1 million grant was obligated by the previous administration. That means the Department will return $980,018.98 to federal officials. In a May 2 letter (click here to view full text of letter) to the U.S. Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Doak wrote, "Oklahomans have made it clear that we do not support the implementation of ObamaCare in our state. We are most able to address the health insurance needs of our citizens by using our own state resources. We will continue to conduct health insurance premium rate reviews via the use of state and private funds." Doak said, "The facts are simple. The majority of Oklahomans do not want the federal government making decisions about their health care. Returning this money was in keeping with those wishes." The Insurance Commissioner also urged Fallin to sign SB 722, which would give Oklahomans greater influence in health care decisions. Key provisions of the bill, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, asserts the authority of states to control the regulation of health care and creates a health care compact for the states. Doak, who first endorsed the bill in March, said, "This legislation reaffirms that it is the states, not the federal government, which should be responsible for regulating health care within their borders. It also would permit each member state to suspend federal laws, rules, regulations and orders when the federal government oversteps its bounds in a way that is inconsistent with the laws and regulations adopted by the states participating in the compact." Gov. Fallin has until Wednesday to act on the measure.