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November 14, 2012

State needs to set up insurance exchange

NORMAN — Republican governors in Missouri and Kansas have announced that their states will not establish their own state-federal health insurance marketplaces. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin will likely make the same announcement later this week after she finishes attending the Republican Governors Association.

We hope Gov. Fallin shows some independence here and decides Oklahoma is capable of setting up its own electronic exchange. The exchanges are online marketplaces where consumers and businesses can make quick comparisons of private insurance offerings.

It’s part of the Affordable Health Care Act approved by Congress and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. All states that have not notified the federal government of their intentions must give notice by Friday, or the federal government will set up a plan for them. The exchanges must be operating by 2014.

In 2011, the state accepted a $54 million federal grant to set up the plan. Republicans criticized the plan, the attorney general filed suit, and the state changed its mind and said no thanks.

We think Oklahomans can build and operate such an exchange effectively and efficiently without federal intervention.

Several governors, including Oklahoma, bet on a change in the White House and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act legislation. It’s way past time for Oklahoma to get started, but we’d rather have our own state build the exchange rather than leave it to the federal government.

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