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Watch This: A True Medicaid Story

by | July 3rd, 2017 | Posted in Healthcare, Watch This | Comments (0)

Joshua Proffitt is a college student at East Georgia State College. He’s made the Dean’s List with a 3.5 GPA, wants to work in radio broadcasting, and has a remarkable ability to predict NASCAR results, earning him the nickname, “The Proffitt.” In five years, Joshua wants to work for a sports radio network.

Joshua also has cerebral palsy. Through Medicaid, Joshua gets daily in-home care from attendants who help with everything from dressing and brushing Joshua’s teeth to taking him to college and taking notes for him. In this video by the  Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Joshua, his parents, and a caregiver describe how Medicaid has made Joshua’s accomplishments possible — and how deep cuts to Medicaid in the Congressional GOP health care bill would jeopardize Joshua’s life and his dreams.

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In The Know: Oklahoma attorney general sues pharmaceutical companies for ‘fraudulent’ marketing of opioids

by | July 3rd, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma attorney general sues pharmaceutical companies for ‘fraudulent’ marketing of opioids: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter sued more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies Friday — accusing them of making fraudulent marketing claims that greatly understated the addictive risks of opioid painkillers while overstating the treatment benefits. “We’ve had almost 3,000 overdose deaths in the last three years in Oklahoma,” Hunter said. “We need to hold these people accountable. Manufacturers have in a consistent and … coldblooded fashion marketed these drugs in a way that has misrepresented their tendency to be addictive and the extent to which they can be deadly.” [NewsOK] In recent years, prescription painkiller overdoses have been responsible for more deaths in Oklahoma than meth, heroine, and cocaine combined. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma Court Denies Stay In Lawsuit Challenging Auto Sales Tax Hike: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied a request to stop the state from collecting a new 1.25 percent tax on automobile sales. The court on Friday denied a stay requested in a lawsuit by Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson, allowing the tax to go into effect on Saturday. The court has scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit for August 8, the same day it will hear arguments in a lawsuit by auto dealers that also challenges the vehicle sales tax and a lawsuit by tobacco companies challenging a $1.50 per pack fee on cigarettes. [NewsOn6] By filing this lawsuit, Richardson is attempting to consolidate the anti-tax wing of Republican primary voters behind his candidacy [OK Policy].

Why States Are Struggling To Tax Services: As states struggle to align their tax codes with the modern service economy, expanding sales taxes to include activities like personal care, home repair, funeral services, computer maintenance and similar enterprises would seem to be a logical move. But states are finding it’s not so easy. Twenty-three state legislatures considered proposals this year to impose taxes on at least some services. But so far, none has made it into law intact — and most died outright. And in several states, new taxes on services that took effect this year are so complicated that tax offices are writing clarifying memos, like the one in North Carolina to distinguish between roof repair (taxable) and roof replacement (not taxable). [Stateline]

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The Weekly Wonk: Senate Republican health plan would decrease coverage, increase cost of health insurance

by | July 2nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam broke down the Senate Republican health care plan – it would lead to many Oklahomans paying more for less coverage. Policy Director Gene Perry pointed out in his Journal Record Column that this plan (the Better Care Reconciliation Plan) breaks many of the campaign promises Republicans made to voters.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler argued that tough-on-crime policies don’t actually do much to reduce crime – especially drug crime. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discusses the Republican gubernatorial candidates that will be competing for the “no-tax voters” next year.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy’s research was referenced by Huffington Post Stateline in their piece about the difficulty states are having in attempts to impose sales taxes on services. Gentzler contributed to an Oklahoma Watch article about the difficulty of reforming the criminal justice system in Oklahoma.

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The Republican governor candidates competing for the ‘no-tax’ vote (Capitol Update)

by | June 30th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Taxes | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

Gary Richardson

Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson announced last week that he will file a lawsuit challenging three of the measures that produced enough revenue during the legislative session to get the Legislature adjourned by the mandated last Friday in May. I think it was a smart political move by Richardson, who is attempting to consolidate the formidable anti-tax wing of Republican primary voters behind his candidacy. In his announcement for governor last February, soon after the Legislature went into session, Richardson said, “The current budget crisis in Oklahoma proves to me that Oklahoma isn’t a poor state but a state run poorly. It’s important that the people of Oklahoma have a Governor who will make the right decisions to get our state out of this budget crisis without raising taxes.”

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In The Know: Students will pay more to attend most Oklahoma colleges

by | June 30th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Students will pay more to attend most Oklahoma colleges: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved 2017-18 tuition rates and institutional budgets for the state’s 25 public colleges and universities Thursday. Full-time students who are Oklahoma residents will pay an average $284 more for tuition and mandatory fees for the school year. Increases range from 2.1 percent to 10.4 percent with the average being 5.3 percent. The rate won’t go up at two universities [NewsOK]. The link between education levels and state prosperity is clear [OK Policy].

State board expands SoonerCare home program to teens: A state board on Thursday expanded to teenagers a program that allows disabled adults to transition from an institution to their homes through Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority board approved a rule that opens the Money Follows the Person program to youth ages 16-18.Previously, only adults were allowed to take part in the program, specifically those who are physically disabled, intellectually disabled or over the age of 64 [NewsOK].

Medicaid disruption could hurt state program: As Oklahoma’s health care officials attempt to plan an annual budget, the federal government has thrown in another wrench. That disruption will mean that medical providers will get almost a month of claims payouts late next summer. That will only get worse if there are any other revenue disappearances in the budget, which are possible. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is charged with taking in federal dollars and allotting state money to administer Medicaid [Journal Record].

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What works to stop crime (hint: it’s not incarceration)

by | June 29th, 2017 | Posted in Criminal Justice | Comments (1)

The debate surrounding criminal justice reform in Oklahoma generally focuses on one question: How do we reduce our very high incarceration rates without jeopardizing public safety? As Gov. Fallin said about her Justice Reform Task Force’s proposals during the 2017 legislative session, “These historic votes will improve public safety in Oklahoma and save our state $1.9 billion.” On the other side of the debate, Rep. Scott Biggs, who scuttled most of the Justice Reform Task Force bills as Chairman of the Judiciary – Criminal Justice and Corrections committee this year, claimed that he did so to protect public safety

The facts in this dispute are on the side of Gov. Fallin, not Rep. Biggs. We’ve pointed out before that the link between incarceration and crime is surprisingly weak. Research shows that smart investments in the right places can effectively reduce crime, but they require a much different approach than what Oklahoma currently takes. Here’s a look at what we know works to reduce crime.

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In The Know: Oklahoma’s Board of Equalization Certifies Budget As It Faces Mounting Legal Battle

by | June 29th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma’s Board of Equalization Certifies Budget As It Faces Mounting Legal Battle: The state’s recently approved $6.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2018 is facing multiple legal challenges, another lawsuit was filed Wednesday, but that didn’t keep the State Board of Equalization from certifying the spending plan. The new fiscal year begins on Saturday. Gov. Mary Fallin already signed the budget into law, but certification by the Board of Equalization is also required. Generally, approval by the board (comprised of six statewide elected officials — the governor, lieutenant-governor, attorney general, treasurer, superintendent of instruction, and state auditor — plus the secretary of agriculture) is a given [NewsOn6]. Next year’s budget starts over $400 million in the hole [OK Policy].

Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate files new court challenge to tax bills: Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court Wednesday to block Saturday’s scheduled implementation of a new sales tax on vehicle purchases. Richardson wants collection of the tax blocked until the court can rule on his constitutional challenge to the tax and two other new revenue-raising laws. Richardson filed his Supreme Court lawsuit challenging the new laws Wednesday. He had announced his intention to challenge the laws in a Tulsa news conference last week [NewsOK].

Disability advocates voice concerns about health care bill: As a television in the room broadcast news of protests around the country, nine disability advocates entered the downtown Oklahoma City office of U.S. Sen. James Lankford on Wednesday afternoon. Once inside, they took turns telling the stories of their disabilities and the hardships they face. Those hardships will be dramatically worsened, they said, if Lankford and 49 other senators approve a Senate health care overhaul [NewsOK]. The Senate Republican health plan would require people to pay more for worse coverage, wreck the health care safety net, and deliver a massive tax cut to corporations and the wealthy [OK Policy].

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In The Know: Gov. Mary Fallin says state budget woes not indicative of economic climate

by | June 28th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Correction: Yesterday’s In The Know incorrectly identified Wanda Felty as the parent of a child currently on the DDSD waiting list. We regret the error.

Today In The News

Gov. Mary Fallin says state budget woes not indicative of economic climate: Gov. Mary Fallin spent 32 minutes Tuesday assuring a Tulsa Regional Chamber luncheon that Oklahoma’s economy is performing better than recent state revenue failures might suggest. Investment is up, Fallin said. Businesses are expanding. The labor force is growing. Which raises the question: If the economy is doing so well, why isn’t tax revenue keeping pace? That, really, was Fallin’s point. Or one of them [Tulsa World]. Next year’s budget starts over $400 million in the hole [OK Policy].

Second verse, only worse: What the Senate Republican health care plan would mean for Oklahoma: Last week, Senate Republicans emerged from secret negotiations to unveil their version of a major health care bill. Those expecting that the Senate would produce a better health plan than the House are likely underwhelmed by the Senate’s efforts. The Senate Republican health plan (the Better Care Reconciliation Plan, or BCRA) would require Americans purchasing private insurance on the individual marketplace to pay substantially more for worse health coverage. It would also undercut the American health care safety net, nearly doubling the uninsured rate, while delivering a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy [OK Policy]. Facing intransigent Republican opposition, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday delayed a vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act [The New York Times].

As Criminal Justice Laws Take Effect, Uncertainty Surrounds Bigger Changes: Later this week, criminal justice measures approved by Oklahoma voters in November will take effect, testing predictions that fewer people will go to prison and taxpayers will ultimately save millions of dollars. But even before those laws kick in July 1, questions swirl as to whether they will be undermined in part by local prosecutors or a lack of funds and won’t fully achieve their stated purpose. Even if they succeed – by keeping thousands of nonviolent offenders from becoming felons – advocates for change acknowledge it won’t be enough to halt the state’s rising tide of incarceration [Oklahoma Watch]. SQ 780 should save Oklahoma millions next year [OK Policy].

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Second verse, only worse: What the Senate Republican health care plan would mean for Oklahoma

by | June 27th, 2017 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (1)

Last week, Senate Republicans emerged from secret negotiations to unveil their version of a major health care bill. Those expecting that the Senate would produce a better health plan than the House are likely underwhelmed by the Senate’s efforts. The Senate Republican health plan (the Better Care Reconciliation Plan, or BCRA) would require Americans purchasing private insurance on the individual marketplace to pay substantially more for worse health coverage. It would also undercut the American health care safety net, nearly doubling the uninsured rate, while delivering a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

The Affordable Care Act has provided popular new consumer protections to all Americans and extended health coverage to tens of millions who couldn’t get it before. Nevertheless, many Oklahomans remain unsatisfied with high premiums and deductibles, as well as limited insurer participation on the individual marketplace. However, rather than fix these issues, the Senate bill would make them worse. Here’s how.

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In The Know: Auto dealers trying to stop sales tax on vehicles set to take effect Saturday

by | June 27th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Auto dealers trying to stop sales tax on vehicles set to take effect Saturday: Car dealers are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to prevent a law putting a sales tax on vehicles from taking effect. Lawmakers passed House Bill 2433. The measure removes the sales-tax exemption on vehicles, thus imposing a 1.25 percent tax on top of the existing 3.25 percent excise tax. The measure is set to take effect Saturday [Tulsa World]. The budget is sitting on shaky constitutional foundations [OK Policy].

Parents of developmentally disabled children wait more than decade to receive help: Beau Clifton, 34, is a slight man, calm and gentle with a seemingly serene countenance. He also is developmentally disabled. His intellectual capacity is about that of a toddler 18 months to 2 years old. He sits next to his mom, Laurie Burt, 56, at a shady park picnic table. His clothes are freshly laundered, his face is shaven and his hair is neatly combed and cut [NewsOK]. Oklahomans with disabilities face devastating delays for services [OK Policy].

Senate GOP health-care bill appears in deeper trouble following new CBO report: Senate Republicans’ bill to erase major parts of the Affordable Care Act would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured by the end of the coming decade — only about a million fewer than similar legislation recently passed by the House, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The forecast issued Monday by Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeepers also estimates that the Senate measure, drafted in secret mainly by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides, would reduce federal spending by $321 billion by 2026 — compared with $119 billion for the House’s version [Washington Post]. The health care bill could put rural Oklahoma hospitals in jeopardy [KOCO].

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