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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

Calling on elected leaders to look beyond politics to the moral consequences of certain decisions, an ecumenical faith group on Thursday asked Gov. Mary Fallin and the state Legislature to reconsider the refusal of federal funds to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Conference of Churches, a group of 16 Christian faith organizations in Oklahoma, submitted a “pastoral letter” to Fallin's office regarding her decision last year to reject Medicaid expansion funding through the federal Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

The Rt. Rev. Ed Konieczny, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, gave a brief statement outlining clergy leaders' concerns at a news conference Thursday at the Capitol.

“I think we need to look past the politics of this and look at what it is that they're really trying to accomplish. Let's look at the moral aspects,” Konieczny said.

Path to good health

“I realize that it's complex but by getting those federal dollars, we have control of how we use those dollars,” he said. “More importantly, those who are the less fortunate in our society can be placed on a pathway towards good health.”

The Rev. William Tabbernee, the conference's executive director, said the diverse faith communities' commitment to aiding the poor was integral in their decision to unite on the issue.

“That is a wonderful sign of the solidarity on this issue,” Tabbernee said. “The opportunity to receive federal dollars to expand federal health care in Oklahoma is an opportunity not to be wasted.”

Governor's reply

Thursday, Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin's office said the governor shares the faith community leaders' concerns about health care in Oklahoma.

“The governor is absolutely committed to improving the health of Oklahomans and trying to get affordable, high-quality medical treatment for all Oklahomans, regardless of income,” he said. “Certainly the governor's outlook on that is informed by her faith as well as her politics.”

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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