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Letters to the Editor

A shameful turn

Kevin Acers November 28th, 2012

When Gov. Fallin announced that Oklahoma will not participate in the expansion of Medicaid under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, she revealed political cowardice and recklessness of judgment. She may as well have proclaimed of our state’s low-income citizens, “Let them eat cake.”

I would love to see the estimated 150,000 uninsured Oklahomans who could have access to health insurance through Medicaid expansion arrive on the steps of the state Capitol for Fallin to meet firsthand. Let her try to explain how it is reasonable and humane for them to remain uninsured in order for her to score political points in the neverending fixation on undermining the Obama administration.

There are moments of shame that linger in history. Images, for example, of white crowds booing at African- American children as they were escorted into school after federal authorities enforced racial integration. Fallin’s public announcement of opting out of Medicaid expansion is a similar moment of shame. Refusing to broaden access to health insurance for Oklahoma’s poor is comparable to historic displays of local and state resistance to earlier benchmarks of progress during the civil rights movement.

I urge Fallin and other state officials to rethink the decision to deprive thousands of Oklahomans of health insurance. It is a historic opportunity. It can be a leap forward through facilitating Medicaid expansion. Or it can be another historically shameful display of state leadership being puny, immoral, and indifferent to the people they are supposed to serve.

—Kevin Acers, Oklahoma City

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