Federal officials have acknowledged receiving a letter from the Oklahoma Insurance Department stating that the state agency is returning nearly $1 million to conduct health insurance premium rate reviews.
“We're waiting for them to physically take the money back at this point,” agency spokesman Shawn Ashley said Tuesday.
Insurance Commissioner John Doak said the federal money was returned because “the majority of Oklahomans do not want the federal government making decisions about their health care.” Doak last month said he would return the funds, on the same day Gov. Mary Fallin declared that the state would not accept a $54.6 million federal grant for setting up a system where Oklahomans could shop for health insurance.
“This is the fulfillment of my campaign promise to protect Oklahomans by opposing ObamaCare every way I can and of the commitment I made in April to return the ObamaCare funds,” Doak said.
The $1 million grant, received in August 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act, provided funding for the Insurance Department to conduct health insurance premium rate reviews to identify what the federal legislation said were “unreasonable and unjustified and/or excessive rate increases.”
Nearly $20,000 of the $1 million grant was obligated by the agency under previous Commissioner Kim Holland. That means the Insurance Department will return $980,018.98 to federal officials.
In a May 2 letter to the U.S. Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Doak wrote, “Oklahomans have made it clear that we do not support the implementation of ObamaCare in our state. We are most able to address the health insurance needs of our citizens by using our own state resources. We will continue to conduct health insurance premium rate reviews via the use of state and private funds.”
Doak also urged Gov. Mary Fallin to sign SB 722, which would reaffirm Oklahoma's control over health care issues. Key provisions of the bill, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Rep. Glen Mulready, R-Tulsa, assert the authority of states to control the regulation of health care and creates a health care compact for the states. Doak first endorsed the bill in March. Fallin has until Wednesday to act on the measure.