For the third time in as many months, Gov. Mary Fallin will be in the nation's capital talking about the March 1 federal cuts and how they could be harmful to Oklahoma and other states.
Fallin, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, is attending the nonpartisan group's winter meeting this weekend and will be urging the president not to unfairly slash funding to states in their effort to reduce the federal deficit through what is being called the sequester.
Part of the message Fallin hopes to deliver is that states should be freed from spending mandates if federal budget cuts make them unaffordable, the Republican governor said. She and other governors will meet with President Barack Obama on Sunday night and Monday; Fallin was among several governors who met in December with the president about the spending cuts.
“I'm going to discuss with him how when these federal cuts come down to the states that states must have flexibility to be able to service our constituents in a way that best meets their needs,” Fallin said. “Let the states be able to innovate to create and to determine where we make the cuts when they do come down from the federal government, how we can still provide essential services.”
Fallin, who will become chairman of the National Governors Association in August, said she will also talk to the president about allowing the Insure Oklahoma program to expand and cover additional uninsured workers in the state.
Fallin last year rejected the Democratic president's proposals to expand the Medicaid health care program in Oklahoma to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act and to establish an online marketplace for the uninsured to shop for health insurance. Insure Oklahoma provides state funds to be matched by small businesses and their employees to buy private health insurance coverage.
“We have a waiver right now, but to comply with the rest of the Affordable Health Care Act we'd have to have another waiver,” she said.
“That would allow us to develop our own program,” Fallin said. “I know we have law that we have to comply with, but we want to have flexibility and have partnerships in our state.”