“Ready or not, it's coming,” said David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute in Tulsa. “There seems to be absolutely no chance that Oklahoma will have enough time or the interest in submitting an application.”
But Weintz said there may be other options. The state is one of several that have requested either an extension or waiver from the exchange program, and Attorney General Scott Pruitt has requested a judgment as to whether the federal law unconstitutionally supersedes a state law passed by voters in 2010.
“Those are some of the questions that we don't think we've gotten really an answer for from the Obama administration,” Weintz said.
Fabien Levy, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said states have had more than two years to submit a plan but that the federal department will provide “significant flexibility” in assisting states through the process.
“(But) consumers in all 50 states will have access to an exchange come January of 2014,” he said.
Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said he thinks there will be time to figure out a way around the program. Nelson, a member of a joint-legislative committee that reviewed the law, said the state's Republican leaders are actively looking for ways to block the federal government from setting up an exchange.
“I think it's a risk that the Legislature was aware of when they decided not to act last session or the session before,” Nelson said. “And deadlines can be kind of sketchy things. I'm not sure if we don't meet that deadline that there's no turning back.”
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The wait and see is over. ... I'm disappointed that we are now almost three years behind the curve in preparing for the changes in the law.”
Sean Burrage, D-Claremore