House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said that recent provider rate cuts approved by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority would have been avoided if Gov. Mary Fallin had signed the compromise budget bill as she promised rather than vetoing it.
“The bill the governor vetoed would have stabilized the Health Care Authority’s budget until a more sustainable solution could be reached during the upcoming legislative session or a later special session. The plan wasn’t perfect, but it provided funding for those health agencies and programs most affected by the loss of revenue from the cigarette fee. We understand the affect that provider cuts have on access to care, particularly in rural areas of the state. If the governor had signed the budget agreement, those cuts to provider rates and any potential cuts to other healthcare services in the coming months would have been avoided.”
Fallin gave her excuses for vetoing the bill.
“The budget bill that I vetoed was a short-time fix to a long-term problem,” Fallin said. “When we return to regular session next year to begin work on the 2019 fiscal year budget, we will be facing a budget gap of as much as $600 million and the reality that provider rates would be cut again. I believe we missed an opportunity to address our long-term structural budget problems in special session by continuing to kick the can down the road and failing to develop a predictable solution to fix our budget and fund our core services. We didn’t get our job done. Unfortunately, it took my veto pen to bring the proper focus and attention to this matter..”