The most recent SoonerPoll finds that most likely Oklahoma voters approve of Governor Mary Fallin’s decision to refuse a federal grant to establish a health insurance exchange.
When asked which view comes closer to their own, 61.2 percent of respondents said Oklahoma should reject the federal money compared to only 23.2 percent who said Oklahoma should accept the money.
“By a margin of nearly three to one, Oklahomans are basically saying freedom is our birthright, and we’re not going to sell it for a $54 million mess of pottage,” said Brandon Dutcher, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ Vice President for Policy.
The health care law requires states to establish a health insurance exchange, which is essentially an online marketplace for health benefits and insurance products. Last month, Governor Fallin rejected a $54 million federal grant to establish the exchange that was awarded to Oklahoma under the health care law.
Fallin’s decision raised controversy because many critics felt rejecting the grant would be bad for Oklahoma since it transfers the burden of funding the health insurance exchange to the state’s general revenues during a budget shortfall. Fallin maintains that Oklahoma “can develop a better, Oklahoma-based solution at a lower cost.”
“Oklahomans are right to be concerned about this grant,” said Jason Sutton, J.D., Health Policy Analyst for OCPA. “Our research found federal strings attached to this grant that would tie Oklahoma to Obamacare and make it impossible for state leaders to create the free-market exchange they say they want to build. Rejecting this grant was the right decision for our state.”
The fact that most Oklahomans approved of the rejection of the grant may be as much a reflection of the average Oklahoma voter’s opinion of the health care law in general, as it is their opinion of Fallin’s decision.
SoonerPoll received a strikingly similar response to another question on the same poll which asked respondents whether the health care law will “be good for the country or bad for the country.”
Results show that 64.8 percent of likely Oklahoma voters believe the health care law will be “bad for the country,” compared to only 22 percent who answered “good for the country.”
When the same respondents were asked whether they support or oppose a proposal to repeal the health care law, 62.5 percent said they support the proposed repeal while just 26.7 percent said they oppose the proposal.
“The president’s overreaching in so many different areas has awakened Americans, and it has certainly awakened Oklahomans,” Dutcher said. “By rejecting this federal money appropriated in the Obamacare statute, Oklahoma struck an important blow for federalism and, more importantly, for freedom.”
Further analysis of crosstabs reveals that Fallin’s decision to reject the federal funds was approved of by a 77.9 percent majority of Republicans and a 48.6 percent and 44 percent plurality of Democrats and Independents respectively.
Little variation occurs when the results are broken down by other demographics such as income, education, sex, and religious affiliations.
The crosstabs did reveal that the results tend to break down across political label lines. A 56.8 percent majority of very liberal respondents and a 41.4 percent plurality of somewhat liberal respondents felt Oklahoma should accept the federal funds.
SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 509 likely voters from May 2 – 12. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.34 percent.