Local resigns from state board over governor’s Obamacare decision.
Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to reject federal money to expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program led Glenn Davis, a Shawnee dentist, to resign from the Oklahoma State Board of Health.
Davis, who was unavailable to comment for this story, said in his letter of resignation that rejecting the funding will send Oklahoman’s tax dollars to pay for health care in other states, and that he refused to serve as a “’rubber stamp’ for the status quo in this political environment.”
“It’s like federal funds are suddenly dirty,” Davis said. “Here’s an opportunity to make a major impact, and we refuse it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Davis’ letter was received by Fallin last week. In the letter, Davis also cited Fallin’s rejection of federal funds, and the current political climate in Oklahoma as the main factors for his resignation.
“The present mindset of our state government is to require more with less,” he said. “Public Health and Public Education are just too important for this approach. The lack of interest in expanding health insurance to our citizens is just another example.”
In a guest editorial in the Shawnee News-Star last week, Fallin said she rejected the Medicaid expansion because it was too costly to the state and it “offers no meaningful reform to a massive entitlement program already contributing to the outof- control spending of the federal government.”
Although the Medicaid expansion could have helped the more than 600,000 uninsured Oklahomans get access to healthcare, Fallin said, it would cost the state “$475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years.” “It would also have furthered Oklahoma’s reliance on federal money that may or may not have been available in the future given the dire fiscal problems … On a state level, massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would also have required cuts to important government priorities such as education and public safety,” she said.
Oklahoma has accepted funds from the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as it has come to be known, through various departments, but elected leaders have not discussed the ramifications of the program, Davis said.
A spokesman for Fallin said the governor appreciates Davis’ service to the state and recognizes that people feel strongly about the Medicaid issue, but adds that Fallin “disagrees with the conclusions he draws about the federal health care law and the future of health care policy in Oklahoma.”
In his letter, Davis also addressed a decision by the state health department to cancel a contract with Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma to provide Women, Infant and Children program services to low-income women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, and to children younger than age 5. Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the health department’s decision.
The state Health Department has said that the decision to terminate the contracts was based in part on Planned Parenthood’s cost per participant exceeding those of other clinics and the uncertainty of future federal funding.
The Oklahoma State Board of Health is responsible for protecting and promoting the health of the citizens of Oklahoma by preventing disease and injury and assuring conditions by which Oklahomans can be healthy. The agency is governed by the Oklahoma State Board of Health. It is a nine-member board that is appointed by the governor.
Each board member serves a nine-year term. Eight of the nine members represent specific county regions of the state and one member is appointed to represent the state at large, according to the Oklahoma state government website, ok.gov.
Davis was chairman of the board’s public health policy committee, and had served on the board since 2010.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.