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Group of Oklahoma pastors urge Gov. Mary Fallin to accept federal Medicaid expansion in Obamacare

by Carla Hinton Modified: April 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm •  Published: April 26, 2013

Weintz said instead of accepting the federal funding, Oklahoma-based solutions are being explored.

“We continue to look at the numbers, and she does not feel this is an affordable option and that if we were to pursue expansion of Medicaid, it would be at the expense of education, public safety and even other health care for the state,” Weintz said of the federal health care plan.

Other voices

Meanwhile, several other clergy leaders spoke out Thursday on the issue.

The Rev. Stan Basler, a United Methodist who is chairman of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches' Impact Committee, said he believed Fallin and many state legislators realize the moral considerations of their faith but fear what will happen after federal Medicaid funding dries up in roughly three years. He said even if the federal funding goes away, much good will have been accomplished with the funding over several years time.

The Rev. James Dorn, president of the Progressive Oklahoma Baptist State Convention, said the conference of churches was appealing to state elected leaders' compassion in asking for reconsideration of the Medicaid expansion issue.

“We believe this funding would provide outcomes for all of Oklahoma to be a healthier state and also the money will provide an economic stimulus,” Dorn said.

The Rev. Bruce Prescott, director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, said accepting the federal funding for Medicaid expansion could help unclog hospital emergency rooms where he said many unemployed and underemployed Oklahomans go to get much of their basic medical needs met.

The Rev. George Young, pastor of Holy Temple Baptist Church, like Dorn, said accepting the federal funding would be good for the entire state, not just the poor.

“I pray that we will see the logic of reversing this decision so that Oklahoma can be more than OK — it can be healthfully great,” Young said.