Supporters Of Medicaid Expansion Protest At Oklahoma State Capitol

Tuesday, February 5th 2013, 6:15 pm
By: News On 6

Dozens of Tulsans took action Tuesday by pounding the pavement at the state capitol.

They're asking Governor Mary Fallin to expand Medicaid, which could add more than 200,000 Oklahomans to what the Governor calls "a massive entitlement program."

In November, Governor Fallin decided to reject the Medicaid expansion.

Tuesday, a group protested at the Capitol in hopes of changing the Governor's mind.

The signs made the protestors' thoughts clear, with phrases like "Expand Medicaid Coverage" and "Healthcare is a Human Right."

Hundreds of Oklahomans are demanding Governor Fallin rethink her decision and expand Medicaid.

11/19/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma Governor Refuses Expansion Of SoonerCare

"There's a lot of people in our county that could benefit from this and they're falling through the cracks, and I just would like to see them covered, as well," said protestor Timothy Beauchamp.

This rally has been in the works for months. A group of Tulsans chose to stand together and take a charter bus to the Capitol.

"I believe it's unconscionable that the federal government has offered us billions and billions of dollars that she has refused," said Lynn Rivers, with the League of Women Voters of Tulsa.

For Rivers, this is a passionate plea. She was a school teacher and says it's painful to see how state policies are hurting families and kids.

"I grew up in Oklahoma, went to Oklahoma schools, and now I'm seeing other children come up with less opportunity than I had back in the ‘50s and ‘60s," Rivers said.

Governor Fallin argues the expansion would cost the state millions of dollars and is not a fix for a flawed healthcare system, but one supporter thinks the governor has a hidden agenda.

"The entire reason it is being rejected is so the governor can make a partisan political point," said Ginny Webster, Co-Director of the Coalition for Medicaid Expansion.

The Governor's office released a statement, saying Governor Fallin made her decision and is not going to revisit the issue.

She has said repeatedly she does not support either the Affordable Healthcare Act or the Medicaid expansion contained within it, which she says is unaffordable.

Instead, the Fallin administration plans to create an "Oklahoma Plan," which she outlined during her State of the State Address.

2/4/2013 Related Story: Governor Proposes Cut In Oklahoma's Income Tax Rate

"Improving the health of our citizens, lowering the frequency of preventable illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and improving access to quality and affordable health care," Fallin said.

Organizers of the protest say they're not giving up. They plan to speak to their state representatives and have them pressure the Governor.