Amid pressure from tea party activists and other conservative grassroots groups, Fallin last November rejected billions of dollars in federal funding for an expansion of Medicaid offered under the federal health care law. Approval would have extended health insurance coverage to nearly 200,000 uninsured Oklahoma residents, but Fallin said it would prove too costly for the state and the country.
Cox and Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, had developed an alternative proposal to expand the Insure Oklahoma program, Senate Bill 640, so that it might qualify for a federal waiver and continue to operate, but Fallin was hesitant to endorse that plan.
“She backed herself into an awful tight corner with her rhetoric. Senate Bill 640 would have given her a way out of that corner,” Cox said. “Now she's chosen to go this route. I guess we just have different opinions on what we should do to be the best stewards of the taxpayer money.”
Still, Cox said with two weeks remaining before the Legislature must adjourn, he said it's certainly possible for the Legislature to consider and pass a bill that would protect the 9,000 Insure Oklahoma recipients who would otherwise lose their insurance coverage.
“If anyone can do it, the power of the governor's support carries a lot of weight with the Legislature,” Cox said.
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy