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Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner testifies at Obamacare Senate hearing

(FILE/KOKH)

Oklahoma's Insurance Commissioner will discuss the Affordable Care Act in front of Congress on Wednesday.

Insurance Commissioner John Doak is set to testify before a Senate committee addressing the premiums on Obamacare exchanges.

“Obamacare has been disastrous in Oklahoma,” said Commissioner Doak in a press release. “We’ve seen jaw-dropping spikes in premiums, narrowing networks, rising deductibles and general market instability. Basically, all our worst fears have come true. The time has come to give states more flexibility to offer consumers a better option. I look forward to discussing possible solutions with federal lawmakers.”

Doak will be joined by insurance commissioners from Washington, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Alaska on Wednesday. The committee will hear from several state governors on Thursday and stakeholders representing hospitals, insurers and doctors next week.

According to the Oklahoma Insurance Department, the state has only one insurer (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma) offering individual plans on the ACA exchange in 2018. The department says the insurer's initial rate filing requested an average increase of 8.3 percent.

Around 129,000 Oklahomans are enrolled in ACA exchange plans for 2017, according to the department.

“Oklahomans should be in charge of healthcare and health insurance in Oklahoma with very few Washington strings attached," says Commissioner Doak. "Republicans and Democrats must work together to give power back to each state governor and Legislature.”

A press release from the insurance department says Commissioner Doak has been encouraged by some proposals from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). That proposal provides block grant funding to states and allows them to implement health insurance solutions on a state-by-state basis.

The hearing can be live-streamed on the Senate website.

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