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U.S. Rep. Martha Roby willing to work through Christmas to avoid “fiscal cliff”

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By Dmitriy Shapiro

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala, 2nd District) released a statement earlier today saying that she is willing to stay in Washington, even through Christmas, to hammer out an agreement to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff” tax increases and budget cuts set to kick in if congress finds no appropriate solution by the Jan. 1 2013 deadline.

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U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala., 2nd District).Dmitriy Shapiro | dshapiro@al.com

“The ‘fiscal cliff’ has real-world consequences for this country and for families in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District,” Roby said. “I’m committed to working through the Christmas holiday if that’s what it takes to find a solution, and I encourage the House leadership to continue its ongoing dialogue with the White House and the Senate.”

If congress does not come up with a balanced budget by deadline, severe federal budget cuts — known as “sequestration” — and tax hikes will automatically take effect and will immediately include $50-55 billion in across-the-board military budget cuts, $25-30 billion in non-defense spending, $14 billion in Medicar

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e physician payments and $39 billion in unemployment extension funds. The defense cuts alone will add up to $500 billion dollars in cuts to military spending after 10 years, severely impacting the size and capability of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Roby said that huge annual deficits are not being caused by taxes rates that are too low, but by government spending that is too high, saying that the new taxes will “do little to bring down the deficit.”

Roby also made a stand against military cuts, saying that other areas of government, such as entitlements, are more deserving of reform.

In addition, the fiscal cliff will end Bush and Obama-era tax cuts and exemptions and return tax rates to pre-Bush tax rates.

The automatic cuts and tax increases were passed by congress as the Budget Control Act 2011, when negotiations to increase the debt ceiling and avoid default, failed. The act was agreed to by both sides to have severe consequences to both parties if a deal is not reached.

According to Roby’s office, an average Americans would pay $3,500 more in taxes per household. Individuals making between $40,000 and $50,000 will about $1,700 more in taxes on average.

Congressional leaders have been working since the election to try to come up with a compromise, but both sides have retrenched with their political parties.

Read more about the “fiscal cliff” negotiations at www.al.com.

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says fiscal cliff complicates state budget

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says uncertainty over whether federal leaders will resolve the fiscal cliff is complicating her efforts to prepare an executive budget for the upcoming year.

Fallin said Thursday her office is putting together a state budget for the 2014 fiscal year that begins July 1, but she says it’s challenging without knowing whether the fiscal cliff’s deep spending cuts and tax hikes will kick in early 2013.

Fallin says she instructed her staff to prepare the budget using figures currently in place for federal funding of state services like education and health care. The governor says those figures will have to be altered if federal spending cuts kick in.

The executive budget must be in lawmakers’ hands by January. The 2013 legislative session begins on Feb. 4.

Kay Bailey Hutchison: Afghan women and girls must be protected as U.S. forces depart

As U.S. combat forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the administration’s 2014 scheduled timeline, there’s one group of Afghans Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison doesn’t want ignored: Afghan women and girls.

The Texas Republican introduced legislation last week to prioritize women and girls’ security during the transition to full Afghan control. The Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act would require data collection on their security as the transition takes place, as well as action by the Defense Department and other coalitions from the two countries in cases of potential deterioration of safe conditions.

The act “will help improve lives of these women and make Afghanistan a safer place, where our goal and their goal would be that they could freely participate in public life, get an education, raise their families without fear of retaliation for fully realizing their full potential and for making their own life choices,” Hutchison said.

The bill also would require Afghan National Security Forces personnel to undergo training in women and girls’ rights and would seek to increase the number of women in the security forces.

The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs already has trained more than 500 female police officers in women’s safety since 2003, according to Cursos Y Herramientas Para Emprendedores

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The legislation comes as violence toward women in the country continues on a deadly scale. The day before Hutchison introduced the bill along with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., a 14-year-old Afghan girl was attacked by two men and beheaded after she refused to marry one of them.

“This is life in a situation that has improved for women since the fall of Taliban rule,” Hutchison said. “Clearly there are still entrenched cultural and societal ills that will take much more work to cure.”

Women’s security, along with access education, health care and other human rights are among priorities the department outlined in 2010. Representatives of the State Department cannot comment on legislation not yet signed into law.

“Afghanistan is run by Afghans; we are significant partners,”  Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador at large for global women’s issues, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “We will continue to ensure that women’s rights are pivotal because of our partnership and because it is critical to the future.”

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Gov. Mary Fallin talks fiscal cliff with Obama, congressional leaders

By Chris Casteel

WASHINGTON — Gov. Mary Fallin urged President Barack Obama and congressional leaders on Tuesday to keep states' finances in mind as they negotiate over federal taxes and spending cuts.

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AP PHOTO

At a White House meeting with fellow governors, Fallin sat between the president and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a discussion on the looming “fiscal cliff,” a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts that will be triggered in January if Congress and the president don't take action to avert them.

“We did not come here to endorse any particular policy that is being debated on the national level … but to say we feel like the governors should have a seat at the table,” Fallin said after the meeting.

“We want to offer information, we want to be a resource that there are great ideas in creating efficiencies, saving money in our own states, and we hope that we can be a part of the process moving forward.”

Fallin, vice chair of the National Governors Association, was one of six governors, from both parties, who met with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Geithner and others at the White House. She and other governors met with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Fallin said the governors acknowledged deficit reduction will require shared sacrifice and that state budgets would likely be i

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mpacted. She said states should be freed from mandates if federal budget cuts make them unaffordable.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, chair of the National Governors Association, said the president didn't “handicap” the prospect of reaching an agreement with congressional Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff. Markell said the president made it clear he wants to reach a deal.

Markell also said a long-term deal would be better than a “three-month fix.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said his state's budget could lose as much as $500 million.

States are willing to do more with less, he said, if some strings are removed.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the session “was a good, solid meeting discussing the fiscal cliff … the shared concerns of governors that we address our fiscal challenges in a way that ensures that the economy continues to grow and create jobs.”

After meeting with the congressional leaders, Fallin said there was still “a lot of political divide between the two political parties in the House and Senate leadership about the answers to solving our challenging fiscal crisis.”

House Republicans made a proposal on Monday that would allow for $800 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years by closing loopholes and reducing deductions for upper-income taxpayers; the GOP proposal would also make cuts to Medicare and Social Security and other federal spending.

Obama has insisted that a deal include higher income tax rates on families with incomes above $250,000.

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Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to resign from House


Posted by Sean Sullivan on December 3, 2012 at 11:17 am

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) will resign from Congress next February to become President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, she announced on Monday.

“I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service — to the contrary — I see a new way to serve.  I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I a

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m excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy,” Emerson said in a statement.

Emerson was first elected to the House in 1996 to replace her husband, who died in office that year. She represents Missouri’s 8th District, in the southern part of the Show-Me State.

“I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service — to the contrary — I see a new way to serve.  I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I am excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy,” Emerson said.

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Rep. Candice Miller appointed head of Committee on House Administration

By Todd Spangler

Detroit Free Press Washington Staff

WASHINGTON – Turns out U.S. Rep. Candice Miller is getting a committee chairmanship after all.

Turned back in her attempt to become chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee, the Harrison Township Republican on Friday was appointed the head of the Committee on House Administration.

The current chairman, U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren of California, lost reelection this fall. House Speaker John Boehner appointed Miller chairwoman of the committee.

Miller said she was “humbled and honored.”

“This committee has the responsibility to ensure that the House runs in an effective andrelationship advice

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Established in 1947, the committee also oversees day-to-day operations in the House, fixing the level of allowances available to members, setting human resources and management polices for staff and helping to supervise the Library of Congress.

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Governor Susana Martinez Announces Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., issued the following news release:

Governor Susana Martinez announced today that she has made appointments to the Board of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the Behavioral Health Planning Council, the New Mexico Border Authority, the Board of Dental Health Care, the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, the Governor’s Commission on Disability, the Economic Development Commission, the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries, and the Historical Records Advisory Board.

Barbara Maddoux of Albuquerque has been reappointed to the Board of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Maddoux currently works at NorthPointe Medicine as a doctor of Oriental medicine. Maddoux holds a Master of Oriental Medicine from the International Institute of Chinese Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry from the University of New Mexico and Randolph Macon Woman’s College.

Woods Houghton of Carlsbad has been reappointed to the New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council. Houghton has worked for 22 years as the Eddy County Extension Program Director at New Mexico State University. Houghton holds a Master of Science degree concentrating on Veterinary Entomology, and a Bachelor of Science degree concentrating in Range Science from New Mexico State University.

Robinson Tom of Crownpoint has been reappointed to the New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council. Tom has worked as a substance abuse counselor for the Navajo Department of Behavioral Health Services since 2005. Tom is responsible for teaching and providing presentations about the effects of substance abuse, wellness, recreation, and art therapy to help clients toward recovery from alcohol abuse. Tom attended International Business College in Las Cruces.

John Jay Spivey of Deming has been appointed to the New Mexico Border Authority. Spivey is also the Chairman of the Luna County Board of Commissioners. Spivey played an important role in the development and promotion of the Columbus Port of Entry and the Columbus cattle crossing. He attended Western New Mexico University.

Richard Hatch of Albuquerque has been appointed to the Board of Dental Health Care. Hatch is an Attorney at Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, P.A., practicing civil defense litigation. Hatch holds a law degree from the University Of New Mexico School Of Law and a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Brigham Young University.

Sandra Skaar of Albuquerque has been reappointed to the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. Skaar is the Owner of Self-Directed Choices, LLC. Skaar also works as the Program Manager for the American Parkinson’s Disease Association at the University of New Mexico. Skaar holds a Master of Social Work from New Mexico State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Health Services Administration and Gerontology from Spring Arbor University.

Doris Dennison of Yahtahey has been appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Disability. Dennison is currently retired after working as an Independent Living Specialist for the San Juan Center for Independence. Dennison attended Lamson Business College and Southern Utah State College.

Trudy Luken of Las Cruces has been appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Disability. Luken is currently the Director of Student Accessibility Services at New Mexico State University. Luken holds a Master of Arts in Special Education/Educational Administration from New Mexico State University and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education/Elementary Education from the University of Maryland.

Donald Day of Raton has been appointed to the Economic Development Commission. Day is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Colfax County, New Mexico. Day holds a Master of Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Security Management from Devry University.

Teri Farley of Edgewood has been appointed to the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries. Farley currently works as the Academic Chair for Animation at the Southwest University of Visual Arts in Albuquerque. Farley has 20 years of experience in graphic design and illustration as well as a combined 29 years of experience working in film and video production and animation. Farley holds a Bachelor of Animation Graphics degree from the Southwest University of Visual Arts in Tucson, AZ.

Rick Clemente of Corrales has been appointed to the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries. Clemente is currently the CEO of I-25 Studios in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Clemente has worked in the film and media industry for over 42 years with production companies such as 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Production Central ABQ.

Clemente attended the Art Center College of Design for Advertising and Illustration-Photography, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Menlo College.

Matthew Martinez of Santa Fe has been appointed to the Historical Records Advisory Board. Martinez is currently the Director of the Northern Pueblos Institute and Assistant Professor of Pueblo Indian Studies at Northern New Mexico College. Martinez holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a Master of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of New Mexico.

Terry Ortega of Santa Fe has been reappointed to the Historical Records Advisory Board. Ortega is a Legal Assistant at Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin LLP. Ortega holds a Master of Arts in Southwest Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in History from New Mexico Highlands University.

 

House GOP women press Boehner for committee spots

By Molly K. Hooper - 11/28/12 06:48 PM ET

House GOP women are pressuring Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to fill two remaining committee chairman positions with female lawmakers.

The slate of committee chairmen approved Wednesday, by the full House GOP conference, consisted entirely of men.

Shortly after the 22-person GOP Steering Committee announced its choices to fill 19 House committee chairman slots, outgoing Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told The Hill not to read too much into the lack of female picks.

“It’s not over yet,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “There’s still two committees open.”

As Speaker, Boehner is allowed to appoint the chairmen of the two committees: the Committee on House Administration and the Ethics Committee.

According to outgoing Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), female members of the GOP conference are appealing to the Speaker to fill the remaining open spots with Republican women.

Though she hasn’t “had a chance to talk with [Boehner]” about the matter yet, Myrick said that her colleagues have been “making the position known.”

On Tuesday night, House GOP women held a farewell dinner for the seven female colleagues not returning for the 113th Congress.

The lack of women atop powerful House committees was a main topic of discussion, according to participants, who told The Hill that the issue was being addressed with Boehner “behind the scenes.”

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) said that “we lost some high-ranking women … so we had a dinner last night to say, ‘We’re sorry we’re losing you,’ and it was a topic of conversation.”

But the women had a reason to celebrate as well: The House GOP conference just elected three women to join the ranks of leadership for the next Congress — the most at any time.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) was elected to be the No. 4-ranking House Republican, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) won the position of conference vice chairwoman and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was elected to be the conference secretary.

GOP rising star freshman Rep. Martha Roby (Ala.), who ran against Jenkins for the vice chairmanship, told The Hill that part of the problem is the lack of female GOP lawmakers.

There will be only 19 House GOP women in the 113th Congress, down from the current 24. Republican women will gain three new colleagues next year: Reps.-elect Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).

But GOP women suffered some tough blows when more senior Reps. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) lost their reelection bids this year. Myrick opted to retire from the House, following nine terms of service.

“We [women] just need to move up in seniority and we’re just not there with the females to be able to vie confidently for the chairmanships,” Ros-Lehtinen explained to The Hill.

Only one woman, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), sought a chairmanship in the next Congress. She came very close to securing the Homeland Security gavel, according to several sources in the GOP Steering Committee.

It took several votes on the three candidates who ran to head the Homeland Security panel to break various ties. Sources say that Boehner, who has five votes in the Steering Committee, did not endorse any of the candidates but supported the eventual winner, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

The third contender was Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.).

Myrick said that since Miller did not get the gavel at Homeland Security, she could be ready to take on the gavel at Ethics or House Administration.

Neither committee requires an in-depth knowledge of policy or history, as do the other House committees.

Myrick said that some of the freshmen, including Roby, could transition to a chairmanship seamlessly.

“We’ve got some really dynamite freshmen; any of them would be capable of stepping up to the plate,” Myrick said.

Boehner’s office declined comment for this report.

Shelley Moore Capito’s Senate bid may keep coal in conversation

By ERICA MARTINSON | 11/27/12 4:25 AM EST

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s entrance into the 2014 West Virginia Senate race could keep coal in the conversation despite a disastrous 2012 run for the coal industry.

In a speech Monday announcing her bid to take the seat that Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller has held since 1984, Capito pledged to “continue to stand up against the EPA’s dangerous and unconstitutional crusade to dictate our nation’s energy policy to the detriment of West Virginians.”

“We are a state rich in natural resources with our coal reserves, natural gas and even oil,” she said. “They have played a major role in the course of our state and driven our economy.”

Capito — who co-founded the Congressional Coal Caucus — made coal a big part of her reelection campaign this year, in which she trounced Democrat Howard Swint with a healthy 69.8 percent of the vote. Capito joined the House in 2000, when she became the first woman elected to the House from West Virginia who was not a widow of another member.

Capito “is leading the effort to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of regulatory injunction and bureaucratic over-reach against the coal and natural gas industry,” her campaign website boasts. The site goes on to denounce “an overbearing EPA that is set on crushing West Virginia’s energy production.”

The “war on coal” was a mantra for nearly all the candidates in this year’s elections in West Virginia — with the battle turning into a contest on who could hate EPA more.

Capito received an immediate coal endorsement in the state, and there’s already a “Coal Miners for Capito” Facebook group. Its chairman, Roger Horton, describes himself as “a lifelong coal miner, a member of the UMWA, [and] a proud Democrat” in a statement posted on the page Monday.

“While we thank Sen. Rockefeller for his service over his long career, we believe he has lost his way and no longer reflects the views of the people of this state,” Horton said in the statement. “His recent statements on coal and coal mining show his loyalty is to Obama and not with West Virginia coal miners.”

Rockefeller, the subject of speculation about whether he’ll retire, has fueled the rumor mill by taking an increasingly hard line on the coal industry.

Earlier this year, Rockefeller took to the Senate floor to denounce a resolution by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) that aimed to pull back an EPA regulation on emissions from coal-burning power plants. “The reality is that many who run the coal industry today would rather attack false enemies and deny real problems than find solutions,” Rockefeller said, dismissing the legislation as “foolish.”

Rockefeller denied that the speech was a sign he does not plan to run in 2014. Sources close to Rockefeller have said the rift between him and the coal industry dates back several years to friction created during the 2009-10 cap and trade negotiations. Rockefeller — who believes that human activity is exacerbating climate change — publicly skirted the issue during the Democratic-controlled Senate’s attempts at climate change legislation, but he had voted for a McCain-Lieberman cap and trade bill in 2003.

Rockefeller hasn’t officially said whether he’s running in 2014.

“Congresswoman Capito called last week to let me know of her plans, and I appreciated that,” Rockefeller said in a statement Sunday. “But my total focus right now is on the national budget situation and the fight for West Virginia families.”

His office declined to comment further  Monday.

Capito said her announcement was meant to make her political intentions known so that she “can get back to work in Washington and avoid disruptive political speculation. It will also hopefully provide clarity and time for others to make decisions.”

Asked how the race could sway the miners’ unions, United Mine Workers of America spokesman Phil Smith said that “with only one candidate actually in the race, it is way too premature to do anything like make an endorsement.”

“Besides, our endorsement process is a democratic, bottom-up process that takes many months to conclude,” Smith added. UMWA was split on the national level this year, declining to endorse a presidential candidate.

UMWA has “endorsed Sen. Rockefeller without hesitation in the past because of his tremendous work on behalf of coal miners and their families over his career, both in terms of keeping them safe and healthy on the job and in terms of securing decent retiree health care benefits for them and their widows,” Smith said. “There is no reason to assume he wouldn’t continue to work on miners’ behalf should he decide to run for and be elected to another term in the Senate.”

However, Smith noted that the union has seen promise for its issues in Capito, who proposed legislation in the House dealing with mine safety issues. “Unfortunately, the legislation she proposed to address miners’ health and safety concerns did not go anywhere in a ‘no new regulations no matter what’ GOP-controlled House,” Smith said.

West Virginia can be a state all unto itself when it comes to elections. Of note, the Senate Conservatives Fund announced Monday that it will not endorse Capito, calling her too liberal.

The race may seem familiar in more ways than one: Rockefeller lost a bid for the governor’s seat in the state to Capito’s father, Arch Moore Jr., in 1972. Rockefeller went on to two terms in the governor’s mansion, winning elections in 1976 and 1980.

The 1972 election was the last time Capito’s father got in Rockefeller’s way. Rockefeller heavily financed Democratic Sen. Jennings Randolph’s campaign for an unexpected final term in 1978, keeping Moore out of the seat that Rockefeller won in 1984 after leaving the Governor’s mansion. He thwarted Moore’s third run at the governor’s office in 1980 with hefty spending as well.

Capito’s father took back the governorship in 1985 for one more term. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to charges that he took illegal campaign payments and extorted money from a West Virginia coal company, Maben Energy Corp. He served nearly three years in federal prison.

In his 1984 Senate race, Rockefeller beat Republican John Raese — another name familiar to Mountain State voters. Raese has run for the Senate four times and was defeated again this month by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin rejects insurance exchanges

On Monday, November 19, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced that she is rejecting a state based insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicaid as outlined in the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as Obama Care.

Insurance exchanges are online insurance markets where Americans are expected to purchase federally subsidized private health insurance. They will also require the exchange of health information including the digitization of a patient’s medical history. If a state rejects the state-run option, the federal government will run the exchanges in that state. This will cut out the middle man, in effect.

In a press release Governor Fallin stated that it does not benefit Oklahomans to fund a “state-run” program that will be under the control of the federal government. She also said that the expansion of Medicaid will cost up to $475 million between now and the year 2020. This increase in cost will require cuts in other areas like education and public safety.

Looking forward, Governor Fallin stated that Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt will continue his legal challenge of PPACA in the federal courts. She believes that he will be successful. She also mentioned that Oklahoma will work to reform Medicaid through prevention of chronic disease which would address avoidable hospital and emergency room visits.

This announcement follows a grass roots campaign that encouraged Governor Fallin’s rejection of establishing the exchange. The decision was time sensitive in that a deadline issued by the federal government was originally set for Thursday, November 15. The deadline was extended until December for governors to make their decisions. The campaign was led by OK-SAFE and OCPAC, two conservative organizations that are opposed to the implementation of PPACA.