“The legal challenge by Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland jeopardizes the health of thousands of Oklahomans and the financial condition of dozens of hospitals and nursing homes. I am deeply disappointed. Given her advocacy this past session in support of a dedicated insurance fee and her efforts these past two years to expand coverage for the uninsured, I am also surprised by her apparent policy reversals.
“This past session, Commissioner Holland helped draft SB 1616, providing a dedicated fee of up to 4 percent on all insurance claims paid by the privately insured. The bill created a revolving fund ‘to provide access to health insurance to uninsured Oklahomans and to maximize the ability of the state to secure all possible federal funds, grants or matching funds.’
“Commissioner Holland’s conclusion that the challenged legislation (HB 2437) is unconstitutional is premised upon the following language change between SB 1616 as quoted above and the following from HB 2437: ‘the revolving fund shall be used to fund the state’s Medicaid program and make full use of any federal matching funds available to the state.’
“It’s possible that Commissioner Holland believes that the dedicated insurance fee’s emphasis on Insure Oklahoma in SB 1616 represents a significant distinction. But more than 40 percent of participants in Insure Oklahoma enroll in the public plan administered by the state’s Medicaid agency. In other words, the legislation under both versions of the bill could be utilized to subsidize insurance in the public plan. Commissioner Holland’s statement that the dedicated insurance fee she supported was not related to Medicaid is not accurate.
“I would like to believe Commissioner Holland’s legal action and attending press release are sincere and not election year strategizing from one who is exposed politically on the fundamental policy she supports – a 4 percent assessment on insurance claims (and some would argue a like increase on insurance premiums) to pay for health coverage for low income Oklahomans. I am asking that Commissioner Holland disclose her communication with the State Chamber of Commerce and the insurance companies she regulates pertaining to all matters relating to her legal challenge.
“The Oklahoma Legislature acted courageously to protect hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans from disastrous cuts to the state’s Medicaid program and to save dozens of Oklahoma hospitals and nursing homes from possible closure. The legislation was not for the politically fainthearted. But politics when it really matters rarely is.”