Oklahoma Continues to Resist Federal Health Insurance Money

Jan 28, 2016

Steven Goldman, right, an insurance counselor at the Oklahoma Primary Care Association, helping John and Patti Elliot enroll for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Credit Brett Deering / New York Times

An intrepid team of insurance counselors is stepping up efforts to enroll Oklahomans in medical coverage. They’re doing all they can before the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period ends on Sunday. But, as The New York Times reports, the group is facing massive resistance. Oklahoma is one of the most hostile states to the health law.

The state has declined to set up its own insurance exchange. And Oklahoma’s Medicaid program has some of the nation’s most restrictive eligibility criteria. The number of Oklahoma private insurers participating in the federal exchange has fallen, and premiums have increased.

As former Gov. David Walters puts it, “‘Obamacare’ is a cuss word in this state.” He added, “If we have an ice storm, the governor is on the phone begging for federal money. If we have a tornado, everyone is lining up for federal money. And we take federal highway funds. It’s just the Obamacare dollars that are radioactive.” 

To see a map of uninsured rates nationwide, click here.