Even as the Oklahoma legislature works to get its Affordable Care Act, ACA, nullification law through the Senate, having already won approval in the House of Representatives, the federal government, via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services , CMS, notified Oklahoma’s state officials, that ACA will be enforced there.
A letter dated March 15 from Deputy Administrator and Director Gary M. Cohen of the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was sent to and received by the office of Commissioner John Doak of the Oklahoma Insurance Department . The letter is a notification that the CMS will enforce the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” with respect to health insurance issuers as directed within the ACA.
Cohen addressed the multiple conversations he has had with staff member of the Oklahoma Insurance Department and cited a Feb. 15 letter from Cohen to the Oklahoma department and a Feb. 27 letter from Doak to Cohen that explained the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner could find no state law that gave his office authority to enforce the Affordable Care Act in his state.
Cohen pointed out in this most recent letter that states are not mandated by the federal law to enforce the ACA, but in those that do not do so, the federal government will assume responsibility.
The letter closed by asking Doak and his department to cooperate with CMS in the enforcement of the insurance market reform and offered the future cooperation of the federal agency if Oklahoma changes its policies toward state-level enforcement of the ACA mandates.
Health insurance providers have begun to receive a letter, also dated March 15, from Cohen’s office, explained that the Affordable Care Act had envisioned that each state would develop and implement policies to enforce the market reforms mandated by the act, but because Oklahoma has not fully done so, and because the state also believes it has no authority to enforce federal law, CMS will be the responsible entity for that enforcement.
Cohen’s letter requested documents from the insurance carriers in regard to personal and group health insurance policies, riders, amendments and more, and any other specific documents needed to CMS.
Instructions are provided for filing the documents and a reminder given that filing documents at the state level does not fulfill the requirements at the federal level.
Oklahoma Legislation to Nullify Affordable Care Act House Bill 1021, Preventing Enforcement of Certain Federal Health Care Acts, authored by Rep. Mike Ritze , R-District 80, and labeled an emergency measure was passed by a vote of 72-20 in the House of Representatives on March 13. It was then authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm , R-District 33, and engrossed to the Oklahoma Senate where the measure had its first reading on March 14 and second reading today.
The measure, in essence, refutes the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the right of the federal government to supersede state laws.