The Norman Transcript


March 30, 2013

Gov. Fallin releases health care documents, withholds others



Joey Senat, a journalism professor at Oklahoma State University and an expert on Oklahoma’s open government laws, said the governor’s refusal to release the documents sets a dangerous precedent for transparency and the public’s right to know.

“She’s creating secrecy that hasn’t existed for the governor’s office,” Senat said. “There has been no court decision on that. It does not exist.

“Why doesn’t she just argue that the Open Records Act doesn’t apply to her, period.”

Fallin in November announced that Oklahoma would not establish an Oklahoma-based health insurance exchange under the federal health care law or expand its Medicaid eligibility to provide medical coverage to thousands of low-income, uninsured citizens. Fallin’s decision drew immediate praise from tea party and other conservative groups who had railed against the federal health care law, but was criticized by hospital officials and other groups who supported the expansion of Medicaid.

Fallin cited the cost to expand Medicaid and create the exchange as reasons for her decision.

The documents released Friday show the governor’s office was conflicted on the creation of a state exchange, or online insurance marketplace, which was designed to facilitate competition and lower prices.

At first, Fallin and her staff accepted a $54 million federal grant to set up its exchange, but then balked after growing resistance from Republican lawmakers.

Then as Fallin’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature condemned the exchange more and more loudly, her staff toyed with working around the legislators even into November, their frustration visibly mounting.

“Can the governor create a health insurance exchange by herself or does she need the Legislature?” Weintz asked Fallin’s chief of staff, Denise Northrup, in an email on Nov. 7. “My understanding is the simple answer is yes she can, and no she does not. Is that correct and is that how we want to say it?”

Northrup responded: “OMG you are killing me. ... That is correct but I’m pretty sure we don’t want to say it that way.”

The documents also show the office was watching carefully as other states rejected the exchange. It appears Fallin made the final decision to reject the exchange less than a week before her Nov. 19 announcement.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • James Garner James Garner dies at 86

    NEW YORK — Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety....

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • garnervisit1 Family, friends recall Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California. Norman resident Roy Hamilton, who grew ...

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Common Core repeal has state teachers worried about instruction

    OKLAHOMA CITY — With the Legislature’s repeal of tough, new English and math standards known as Common Core, education leaders said they’re concerned Oklahoma students will fall further behind their counterparts in more than 40 states ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Norman firefighter performs Heimlich maneuver on Moore man after he chokes on food

    What started out as a normal night out for a Moore couple ended with them being thankful a firefighter was in the right place at the right time....

    July 22, 2014

  • 18-year-old killed; 72-year-old man, young boy injured

    Those involved in the wreck Friday near 136th Avenue and South Sooner Road were identified Monday by Oklahoma City police. Logan Rosado-Santoni, 18, was pronounced dead on the scene after the 4:30 p.m. multi-vehicle wreck. Two others were ...

    July 22, 2014

  • New AP program to begin in Norman

    NORMAN — Norman Public Schools Board of Education learned about Advanced Placement Capstone at a regular board meeting Monday....

    July 22, 2014

  • Rebels release train with bodies from jet

    HRABOVE, Ukraine — Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll passes 560

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Moore City Council paves way for Sam’s Club location

    MOORE — The Moore City Council approved a $5 million bond Tuesday to be repaid with sales tax and utility revenues. “A good amount of street improvements needs to be done,” Moore City Manager Steve Eddy said. “This will be paid for with ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Perry sending Guard troops to border

    AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally. ...

    July 22, 2014