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SCOTUS Upholds Healthcare Law, What Happens Next?

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In the state of Oklahoma, some experts on the Affordable Care Act said it would be a waiting game to see how the state government moves forward. In the state of Oklahoma, some experts on the Affordable Care Act said it would be a waiting game to see how the state government moves forward.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

In a landmark decision handed down Thursday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld virtually all of the Affordable Care Act, one of President Obama's signature pieces of legislation. Almost immediately, questions arose over how the sweeping law would affect Oklahomans?

In the state of Oklahoma, some experts on the Affordable Care Act said it would be a waiting game to see how the state government moves forward.

Gov. Mary Fallin addressed reporters after the decision came down where she expressed her disappointment in the high court's decision.

"In the end, you know the people of Oklahoma, the people around the nation have the ability to voice their opinions once again on the federal health care law come this November when we vote. Hopefully we can elect a new president, change Congress, and change the U.S. Senate so that we can repeal the federal health care law and try to work towards more free-market solutions to lower health care costs," Fallin said.

6/28/2012 Related Story: Oklahomans Who Rely On Free Clinics React to Healthcare Decision

While Fallin disagreed with the changes put in place by the Affordable Care Act, she acknowledged the needs for health insurance for folks in Oklahoma, but insisted the states should be the ones to implement changes.

"We are very conscientious that there are people in the state of Oklahoma that don't have the type of access to care that they want to have, that health care costs are certainly rising. We've made major reforms in our tort reform system. We've passed small business health insurance reform acts. We established a risk pool for the uninsurable," Fallin said.

One of Fallin's major concerns was the price tag that came with the health care reform law.

"Preliminary reports when the federal health care bill was first passed would cost over $500-million for the state of Oklahoma," said Fallin.

6/28/2012 Related Story: Governor, Other Oklahoma Leaders Unhappy With High Court's Health Care Ruling

Susan Relland, Vice President and legal counsel for Health Care Reform at American Fidelity Assurance, weighed in on who could see the biggest changes as each part of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect. She said if you have insurance now you probably will not see much of a change.

For the close to 600,000 uninsured Oklahomans, however, they will now need to find health insurance coverage or pay a penalty.

"The biggest impact on them will be the exchanges," said Relland. "For someone who doesn't have coverage today, some of them are at the mercy of the individual insurance market."

Relland said in theory the exchanges would alleviate some of the problems the uninsured face because it changes who can be covered.

6/28/2012 Related Story: US Supreme Court Upholds Individual Mandate In President's Health Care Reform Act 

"No pre-existing condition limits, no health underwriting. Your rate will be based on your age, gender and how many people in your family you want to cover and whether or not you smoke," said Relland.

The big question about over that exchange, especially for Oklahoma, is can they get it up and started in time. Relland explained that the exchanges would be one area where states can devise their own plans rather than fall into the "one-size-fits-all" default plan.

Right now, Oklahoma may have no other choice than to accept that default plan because a blueprint has to be in place by fall 2012. Without the state legislature creating a law to authorize the exchange, there would be no other option.

"It's not something that I'm going to do. I don't anticipate calling a special session," said Fallin.

The part of the health care law that the Supreme Court struck down, deals with Medicaid. Relland explained that the ruling essentially means anyone receiving Medicaid benefits cannot have their funding cut if states choose not to "opt-in" to a program that would expand coverage in states.

6/27/2012 Related Story: My 2 Cents: Supreme Court To Rule On New Healthcare Law

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