Watch This: Black Wall Street – Prosperity Turns to Poverty

by | July 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Watch This | Comments (0)

This 10-minute video takes a look at the lives of people living in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, before and after their homes, businesses, and community were destroyed by a fire started in anger by the city’s white residents.  The short film was made by a middle school student, and won first prize at the Oklahoma History Day Competition.

In The Know: Oklahoma has big decision to make on Medicaid expansion

by | July 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that debate is erupting over whether Oklahoma should accept an expansion of federal Medicaid funding that would make some 200,000 uninsured Oklahoma adults eligible for health insurance. On OK Policy Blog, we write that  turning down the enhanced federal match would be contrary to the state’s interests and lacking in basic compassion and common sense.

Gov. Fallin renewed a call for a bond issue to make repairs to the Capitol building. Tulsa students with DREAM Act Oklahoma are uncovering many fraudulent claims by lawyers advertising help for undocumented immigrants. Chesapeake Energy paid more in compensation to Aubrey McClendon in 2008 alone than it has paid in corporate income taxes over its entire 23-year history.

Oklahoma liquor retailers are gearing up for a public relations campaign to preserve their monopoly now that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has OK’d an initiative petition to let large grocery stores in Oklahoma’s largest counties sell wine. A new state law requires managers of recreational lakes and reservoirs to post signs notifying the public about how to find water-quality test results for blue-green algae and other contaminants.

The Tulsa World writes that the state’s new teacher evaluation policy is an unfunded mandate that will take money out of the classroom. The Enid News and Eagle examined how unlimited corporate spending allowed under the Citizens United Supreme Court decision is affecting races in Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of uninsured adults aged 18 to 35 who were without health coverage in 2011 because they couldn’t afford it, their employer didn’t offer it, or they’d been denied due to a pre-existing condition. In today’s Policy Note, Ezra Klein shows that of the 15 significant tax increases since 1950, the Affordable Care Act comes in 10th for size. Combined tax increases within the ACA are smaller than the tax increase approved by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma has big decision to make on Medicaid expansion

Health care reform’s Medicaid expansion is right for Oklahoma

by | July 2nd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (3)

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling upholding the bulk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) struck down one key component of the law: it made the law’s Medicaid expansion optional rather than mandatory by declaring that that the federal government may not withhold all Medicaid funding for states that opt not to expand Medicaid coverage.

Oklahoma now can choose not to expand Medicaid to cover more people without insurance living below the poverty line.  But such a choice would squander the chance for as many as 180,000 struggling Oklahomans to get health insurance coverage and leave hospitals and other health care providers on the hook for uncompensated medical care.

From: “Health Care Reform and State Budgets: Savings Likely to Fully or Partly Offset Modest New Costs” at: http://okpolicy.org/health-care-reform-and-state-budget-savings-likely-fully-or-partly-offset-modest-new-costs-october-2

The choice for Oklahoma – and other states – should be simple. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pick up the bulk of the tab for expanding Medicaid (as we discussed at length in this issue brief and this blog post).  It will cover 91.7 percent of the cost of providing health insurance to between 137,000 and 180,000 Oklahomans between 2014 and 2020, according to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s estimates. While the state would assume a small portion of the cost for this population, these costs would be at least partly offset by state savings associated with serving a smaller indigent population.

Who are the people who would be shut out of Medicaid if Oklahoma opts against the expansion?  The very Oklahomans who are struggling the most: primarily working-poor parents and other adults who work for low wages and are either not offered employer-based coverage or can’t afford it.  Right now, if you have children but earn more than $7,000 a year (for a family of three), you make too much money to qualify for Medicaid in Oklahoma.  And if you don’t have kids, you can’t qualify for Medicaid at all, no matter how little money you make.

continue reading Health care reform’s Medicaid expansion is right for Oklahoma

In The Know: Affordable Care Act reforms draw closer

by | July 2nd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that The Tulsa World published a Q&A on the Affordable Care Act and profiled Tulsans whose lives demonstrate key areas of the continuing debate over our health care system. Oklahoma must develop the plan for a state-based insurance exchange this year to avoid a federal takeover. NewsOK called on lawmakers to get busy with creating an exchange. Governor Fallin said that “we really don’t know what this means to the state of Oklahoma” that the Supreme Court upheld the law.

NewsOK looked at the question of expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, citing the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs estimate that it would cost the state billions. OK Policy previously explained why the OCPA estimate is totally wrong and why the total cost of health reform for Oklahoma is modest and could yield net savings.

The number of Oklahomans with jobs set a record in May at 1.7 million as the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent. The Hispanic community in Oklahoma City almost doubled between 2000 and 2010.  Effective Sunday, the 18 buildings in the Capitol complex and state office buildings in Tulsa are tobacco free.

Writing in NewsOK, Rep. David Dank makes another call for tax credit reform. Contributors with Oklahoma addresses gave more than $5 million to Super PACs in the most recent fundraising quarter.

The Number of the Day is the how many Oklahoma counties where 2/3rds or more of the adults have not completed at least two years of education after high school. In today’s Policy Note, Nancy Folbre reexamines the economic costs and benefits of raising children.

continue reading In The Know: Affordable Care Act reforms draw closer

The Weekly Wonk: June 29, 2012

by | June 29th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy released a statement in response to the Supreme Court’s health law ruling; it’s now time to move forward with implementation.  We blogged about the shrinking state workforce, which has dropped by 1,633 employees since 2001.  We also blogged about controversies in Norman and Tulsa that demonstrate the risk of too much Chamber of Commerce-driven policy.

Watch a compelling 6-minute documentary about undocumented American youth on the OK Policy Blog.  Guest blogger John Thompson finds reasons for optimism at the Vision 2020 conference about the future of public education in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman complained in an editorial that an OK Policy piece showing how competing plans for the Bush tax cuts would affect each income bracket was ‘class warfare.’  Our Director David Blatt wrote in The Journal Record about why tax cuts won’t help Oklahoma’s long-term unemployed.  Listen to OK Policy’s Director on KOSU and watch policy analyst Kate Richey’s interview on KJRH about the impact of the Supreme Court’s health law ruling in Oklahoma.

Tulsa People magazine profiled Vince LoVoi, “Renaissance man” and OK Policy’s Board Chair.  David Blatt was interviewed about the tax cut debate in Oklahoma for the American politics blog of an international news magazine.  The Muskogee Phoenix carried the announcement that Linda Edmonson has joined our Board of Directors.

In The Know, Policy Notes

Numbers of the Day

  • 32.2 percent – Percentage drop in the 4-week average of continued claims for unemployment in Oklahoma between now and 2010
  • $140,800,000 – Amount of uncollected taxes from online transactions in Oklahoma, TY 2012
  • 120, 235 – Number of people with a disability in Oklahoma who receive Social Security income, 2010
  • $366 million – Amount general revenue collections through May 2012 remain below pre-downturn FY ’07 levels, or 6.8 percent
  • 69.4 percent – Percentage increase in premiums for family health coverage in Oklahoma between 2000 and 2009

In The Know: Oklahoma politicians, physicians respond to Supreme Court ruling

by | June 29th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Oklahoma politicians reacted negatively to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.  OK Policy released a statement that it’s now time to move forward with implementation.  Oklahoma’s medical community was generally supportive of the decision, including M.D. and president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, director of Oklahoma’s Primary Care Association, and M.D. and former dean of the OU School of Community Medicine.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she doesn’t plan to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with state components of the federal health law, like exchanges.  Insurance Commissioner John Doak told a news station that he is ‘highly speculative’ that the federal government has the funds to implement an exchange in Oklahoma and implied that no action will be taken until after the November election.

The state’s highest court upheld an initiative petition to allow the sale of wine in some grocery stores.  Oklahoma is the first state to be chosen as a testing site for a new type of unmanned aerial drone.  Construction work on the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum will be suspended on July 1 due to lack of funding.

One state agency keeps a sign posted warning against the use of obscene language, based on an old law that bans cursing in the presence of a woman or swearing in the name of Jesus Christ.  Advocates and parents continued to lobby state education officials to remove students’ personal information from their website.

In today’s Policy Note, read the opinions issued by the sitting Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Affordable Care Act ruling.  The Number of the Day is the percentage drop in the 4-week average of continued claims for unemployment in Oklahoma since 2010.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma politicians, physicians respond to Supreme Court ruling

Watch This: Illegal

by | June 28th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Immigration, Watch This | Comments (1)

Illegal is a compelling 6-minute documentary about undocumented American youth.  The film was financed, produced, and directed by a diverse team of independent advocates and professionals from across the country.  Through a series of interviews, this short film illuminates the plight of immigrant youth and urges the viewer to confront the tensions and bald injustice embedded in our current immigration policy.

While the Obama administration’s decision to halt deportations of some undocumented residents was an important first step, executive orders are easily changed by successive administrations, and legislative action is necessary to make permanent changes to repair a broken system.

STATEMENT: Supreme Court ruling means it's time to move forward

by | June 28th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

David Blatt, Director of Oklahoma Policy Institute, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

The Supreme Court ruling to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is a significant victory for consumers, providers, and payers alike. It’s also a wake-up call for Oklahoma, where our leaders have gambled on a wait-and-see strategy that’s left us ill prepared for reform. The decision today underscores the state’s obligation under federal law to move forward with implementation.

As major provisions of the law take effect in the next two years, many of the state’s 600,000 uninsured residents will gain access to health care coverage. Oklahoma will soon be required to operate an online competitive market for health insurance known as an ‘exchange’ – a one-stop-shop for residents to explore their coverage options. We now need to move quickly towards participating in the creation of a robust, consumer-friendly exchange for users to browse, compare, and purchase private plans and/or determine their eligibility for public programs and premium assistance tax credits.The Supreme Court also upheld expansion of the Medicaid program, a provision that will particularly benefit low-income uninsured Oklahomans, paid for almost entirely by the federal government.

For the 1.7 million Oklahomans who are privately insured and happy with their plan, coverage is now more secure and comprehensive. Insurers can no longer deny their claims or drop their coverage without oversight. Their insurer will now cover routine preventive care, like immunizations and cancer screenings, for no co-pay or additional out-of-pocket cost.

The health law is already working to strengthen consumer protections and ensure that Oklahomans are getting what they pay for from their insurers and providers. It’s now up to state leaders, regardless of their personal political preferences, to move forward quickly to implement the Affordable Care Act.

  • For the full text of the Supreme Court’s ACA ruling, click here.
  • For ongoing, thorough, and expert coverage of today’s ruling, check out SCOTUSblog.
  • For more information about the federal healthcare law and healthcare in Oklahoma, visit our website.

In The Know: Oklahoma GOP leaders gambling on health care decision

by | June 28th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the Enid News and Eagle examines the gamble Oklahoma GOP leaders are taking in doing little to comply with the new health care law before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling (expected later this morning). The percentage of Oklahoma’s economy represented by gambling is on the rise, with the biggest increase from Indian casinos.

Oklahoma was the only state that saw no change in first-quarter personal income. Nationwide, personal income rose in 47 states and fell in Kansas and Mississippi. See here the full report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Oklahoma City was ranked 22nd out of 100 cities for the progress of its economic recovery.

StateImpact Oklahoma discussed how big cuts to inmate education programs may cost Oklahoma taxpayers later. On the OK Policy Blog, John Thompson finds reasons for optimism at the Vision 2020 conference about the future of public education in Oklahoma. This Land Press summarized reporting on the man behind the Personhood campaign in Oklahoma and nationally.

A software glitch that delayed posting of Tuesday’s election results on the State Election Board’s website for about two hours. In the Journal Record, David Blatt explains why tax cuts won’t help Oklahoma’s long-term unemployed and shares what some real solutions could be.

The Number of the Day is the amount of uncollected taxes from online transactions in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Pro Publica shares numbers on the U.S.’s billion dollar and growing for-profit detention industry.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma GOP leaders gambling on health care decision

Guest Blog (John Thompson): Visions 2020 brings hope

by | June 27th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (1)

John Thompson is a former Oklahoma historian and inner city teacher who is now an education writer focusing on inner city schools.

In June, the Oklahoma Department of Education hosted the Vision 2020 conference to preview the dramatic changes that are roiling school systems. I was not surprised that many educators came to the conference with feelings of dread. Yet, I left the conference with new hope.  The following are the highlights from the perspective of an inner city teacher.

Early education and early warning systems.  Data-driven reformers once dismissed complaints about lack of high-quality pre-school as an “excuse” used by teachers to defend their failure to close the achievement gap. Billions of dollars were invested in computer systems for holding educators accountable, while we had not invested the relative pennies it would take to create early warning systems so truancy and other problems at school and home do not metastasize. However, Oklahoma now has a state-of-the art early warning system based on the research from the John Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center.

continue reading Guest Blog (John Thompson): Visions 2020 brings hope