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Oklahoma legislators to study federal health care law

A special joint legislative committee will make recommendations on how the state should address the federal health care law as well as the costs local governments and businesses will face as a result of it.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 19, 2011
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Voters said they want to opt out of it, the attorney general's office has filed a legal challenge to it and the governor and legislative leaders eventually refused a federal grant after fretting over whether that would tie the state to it.

Now lawmakers will study it — the federal health care law that Congress passed last year.

Legislative leaders announced Wednesday they formed a special joint legislative committee to determine how the federal legislation will affect Oklahoma.

“Studying this issue in more depth makes for healthy legislative process,” said House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee.

Steele said last week that legislators would not take up this session a measure that would develop a system where Oklahomans could shop for health insurance — an idea that is required by the federal law and has drawn the ire of many state Republicans.

“The more ideas we have at the table, the better,” Steele said. “The scope of this law is vast so we need to make sure we are prepared to address this law in a conservative way that is best for Oklahoma.”

The joint committee will hold several public meetings. It also will look into how to best approach the law as the state awaits the outcome of its lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality.

Panel will be bipartisan

The committee will recommend how the state should address the federal health care law as well as the costs local governments and businesses will face as a result of it.

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The best course of action for Oklahoma to take at this point is to step back and absorb the weight of this federal law and study it in more depth so we can proceed on the

right course.”

Brian Bingman

Senate President Pro Tem

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