Oklahoma Republicans divided over what to do with healthcare reform

Republicans in the Oklahoma statehouse are split over what to do about the federal healthcare reform law, according to the Tulsa World.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman said Thursday the state's upper chamber won't pursue legislation creating a health insurance exchange because it would tie the state to the Democrats' law. The state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, however supports a state exchange because the healthcare reform law calls for the federal government to run the show starting in 2014 in states that don't take the reins.

"If our state Senate does not take up a piece of legislation that outlines a plan for an Oklahoma exchange, the Senate puts the state of Oklahoma in jeopardy of having a federal health exchange forced down on us that is not developed by Oklahomans," Fallin said, according to the newspaper.

Fallin was a congresswoman prior to her election as Oklahoma's governor and voted against the healthcare reform law. She also supports state Attorney General Scott Pruitt's legal challenge against the law.

Complicating matters, Oklahoma requested and received a $54 million "early innovator" grant to kick start its exchange and serve as a model for the rest of the country. Some state lawmakers are now suggesting that Oklahoma return the money.

Officials from Oklahoma and the six other states that were awarded the competitive grants were in the nation's capital this week to meet with federal regulators about how to set up an exchange.