Governor battles with Republicans over Medicaid privatization plan

Mike Seals - April 26, 2021 10:19 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Lawmakers continue to battle with the Governor over how to structure Medicaid expansion. This time, the fight is within the Republican party.

Last week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill that goes against the Governor’s plan for privatized Medicaid care.

The chief exec. bashed the bill, but now Republicans in the House are pushing back.

RELATED:  Flashpoint: Fight over expanding Medicaid brewing in Oklahoma 

“That was uncalled for and I have no choice but to respond,” said Representative Josh West.

The Republican from Grove is talking about his statements on social media in response to a statement put out by the governor shortly after the State House passed Senate Bill 131.

“It is disappointing that in the dead of night, 57 House Republicans voted to grow government and spend $1.2 billion of taxpayer money over 5 years on a one-way ticket to Joe Biden’s socialized health care plan in order to please the Oklahoma Hospital Association. Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation in health outcomes and our constituents deserve better. Oklahomans hired me to bring a fresh set of eyes to all areas of government, which is why I believe SoonerSelect is the right path forward for our state and why I will continue to advocate for this needed change.”

GOV. KEVIN STITT

“It’s a blatant lie. There was nothing about that, that was true,” said West.

West and other Republican lawmakers in the House say the plan they passed is very similar to the one proposed last year as Sooner Care 2.0.

Stitt praised that plan when he appeared with President Trump in Jan. 2020.

“For him to say now that that plan is socialized, trying to demonize it… that’s false,” said West.

Governor Stitt did respond today.

“I have an open door policy for everyone in the House and the Senate. That particular person has not come talk to me. But Senate Bill 131 is not Sooner Care 2.0. Managed care is the right way to do it. 42 other states do it this way,” said Stitt.

RELATED: Lawmaker introduces bill to reform Oklahoma Health Care Authority instead of the Governor’s Medicaid expansion plan 

But West says he had to take a stand to make sure his voters know his stance even if there are consequences from the Governor.

“Sometimes I think he doesn’t realize that there are three branches of government and we are all equal. I’m not his employee,” said West. “I think its more important to be transparent and to tell the truth at all times whether it costs me an election, whether the Governor vetoes my bills, I don’t care.”

SB131 was amended in the House. It now goes to the Senate to accept those changes and then would go to the Governor’s desk.

He would likely veto it and move ahead with his privatized plan. It would be up to State Senate to start an override of the veto.

 

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