Gov. Mary Fallin released 31 documents Monday that her office had withheld from a major public records release concerning her decisions about the Affordable Care Act. Political and pragmatic concerns take center stage in the newly released emails.
On Nov. 14, 2012, Fallin press secretary Alex Weintz sent an email to Katie Altshuler, the governor’s policy director, and Denise Northrup, the governor’s chief of staff. Weintz discussed whether the governor should abandon her support for setting up a state health care exchange for people to select insurance.
“In my opinion the two choices that make the most sense are: State exchanges can be good if done right so we are going to build one OR Obamacare sucks, we aren’t going to help implement it and we aren’t creating an exchange,” Weintz said in the email.
“Since there is no way the legislature is going to allow us to do the former, I suggest we do the latter.”
Ultimately, the governor decided against setting up a state exchange. People in Oklahoma instead use one set up by the federal government.
Responding to public records requests, Fallin’s office in March 2013 released more than 51,000 pages of documents about her approach to the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.
She withheld 31 documents totaling 100 pages. Her general counsel, Steven Mullins, said those pages were exempt from the state Open Records Act on the grounds of executive privilege, deliberative process privilege and attorney-client privilege.
The decision to withhold documents was challenged in court. A judge ruled June 17 that the governor could withhold the documents under a deliberative process privilege.
On Monday, Mullins said the governor had decided to voluntarily waive the privilege and release the documents because the court affirmed the privilege, the documents have become less sensitive and she believes in transparency and openness.
The documents that were released shed light on the inner workings of the governor’s office.
In 2012, the governor’s office was considering whether to expand Medicaid, as envisioned under Obamacare, with the federal government picking up much of the early expense.
State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, was strongly against this and issued a news release on July 3, 2012, urging Fallin to “be on the front line with those governors who have already announced they won’t submit to the federal health care law.”
Continue reading this story on the...