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SQ 793 is about corporate control of a medical profession (Guest Post: Joel Robison)

by | October 18th, 2018 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (5)

Of the five state questions on the ballot in November, only SQ 793, which would allow optometrists and opticians to operate in retail establishments, is the subject of intense, well-funded campaigns from both supporters and opponents. We asked both campaigns on SQ 793 to submit guest posts explaining their position. This post by Joel Robison explains why his group opposes the measure.  A post in support can be found here


Joel Robison serves as executive director for the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians.

State Question 793 is a November 2018 ballot initiative that would allow big retailers like Walmart to open corporate-run optometry clinics inside their stores. It was put on the ballot after a successful signature gathering drive led by Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, a group created by and paid for by Walmart. The “yes” campaign is being funded by Walmart, with some help from other big retailers like Costco.

continue reading SQ 793 is about corporate control of a medical profession (Guest Post: Joel Robison)

SQ 793 will expand vision care access for low-income Oklahomans (Guest Post: John Kusel)

by | October 18th, 2018 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (1)

Of the five state questions on the ballot in November, only SQ 793, which would allow optometrists and opticians to operate in retail establishments, is the subject of intense, well-funded campaigns from both supporters and opponents. We asked both campaigns on SQ 793 to submit guest posts explaining their position. This post by John Kusel explains why his group supports the measure.  A post in opposition can be found here


John Kusel, a Ft. Cobb rancher, is an advocate for senior citizens who has served as President of the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature and as Chair of the State Council on Aging.

While the rising costs of healthcare can often force low-income families to make difficult decisions between their health and their financial well-being, we can break down one of these financial barriers in Oklahoma by creating new options for affordable vision care. Voters in Oklahoma will have an opportunity to do this on Election Day in November by voting “Yes” on State Question 793.

continue reading SQ 793 will expand vision care access for low-income Oklahomans (Guest Post: John Kusel)

Oklahoma’s plan for Medicaid work requirements is a dangerous experiment that will put the health of thousands of Oklahomans at risk (Guest post: Philip Rocco)

by | September 5th, 2018 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (0)

Philip Rocco is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marquette University and co-author of Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics, and the Affordable Care Act (University Press of Kansas, 2016). This post is excerpted from a public comment authored by he and his colleagues.

The healthcare of thousands of Oklahomans is on the line this fall. That’s because Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma legislature have developed a plan to require low income parents or caregivers to work at least 20 hours a week in order to maintain their SoonerCare coverage. If the federal government approves the plan, it will place young parents, caregivers, and their children at risk of losing SoonerCare.

continue reading Oklahoma’s plan for Medicaid work requirements is a dangerous experiment that will put the health of thousands of Oklahomans at risk (Guest post: Philip Rocco)

How many Oklahomans would lose health coverage under reporting requirements? The state doesn’t say (Guest post: Dana Bacon)

by | August 9th, 2018 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (2)

Dana Bacon

Dana Bacon serves as regional director of government affairs for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

As required by both executive order and state law, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) released an 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal for SoonerCare on July 3. Oklahoma hopes to join a handful of states in requiring some adults on Medicaid to report their work-related activities to the state, without any misunderstandings or technical glitches, or risk losing their health coverage.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), like many patient advocacy groups and other organizations with an interest in health care, has deep concerns about Medicaid reporting requirements such as these. LLS has adopted a set of Principles for Meaningful Coverage to help us judge the value of health care reform ideas. We embrace ideas that would improve access, quality, affordability, and stability in health care, and discourage ideas that would make it harder for patients to get the life-changing care they need.

continue reading How many Oklahomans would lose health coverage under reporting requirements? The state doesn’t say (Guest post: Dana Bacon)

Oklahoma’s Proposed Work Rule Would Harm Mothers and Children (Guest post: Joan Alker)

by | August 7th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (5)

Joan Alker is the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families and a Research Professor at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy

Oklahoma has one of the highest uninsured rates for children in the nation, and the state will likely make matters worse if it gets a green light from CMS to go through with a plan to impose more red tape requirements on poor parents.

Oklahoma is seeking approval to amend its Section 1115 demonstration waiver to impose a work or community service requirement on Medicaid beneficiaries with incomes at or below 45% of the federal poverty level. These are families whose income is no more than $779 a month for a family of three. Parents of children under 6 years old would be exempt but it is unclear how a parent would claim such an exemption. The state itself projects that the vast majority of parents who would be impacted by this new proposal are very low income – below 20% of the poverty line, just $346 a month for a family of three.[1]

continue reading Oklahoma’s Proposed Work Rule Would Harm Mothers and Children (Guest post: Joan Alker)

Why shouldn’t women be allowed to talk about wages with their co-workers? (Guest Post: Liz Waggoner)

Liz Waggoner

Liz Waggoner is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, the state’s leading advocacy organization for women and girls.

You might have missed it, but April 10th was Equal Pay Day in the United States.  Equal Pay Day indicates how far into the current year women must work to earn what men made in the previous year; in other words, women must work for 15 and half months to earn what a man earns in 12 months. This day exists because the gender wage gap is still a reality – in Oklahoma, women working full-time, year round earn just 77 percent of what men earn. Though multiple factors contribute to gender pay disparities, one of the reasons women make less than men is wage discrimination – employers paying women less than their male colleagues for the same job. It’s been illegal since 1963, but it can happen easily when wage and pay information is a secret.

continue reading Why shouldn’t women be allowed to talk about wages with their co-workers? (Guest Post: Liz Waggoner)

In a potential teacher walkout, communities must step up to fill the nutrition gap (Guest post: Brent Sadler)

by | March 29th, 2018 | Posted in Children and Families, Education | Comments (0)

Brent Sadler is Vice President of Community Investments for the Tulsa Area United Way.

With the potential for a teacher walkout on the horizon, one of our greatest concerns is food insecurity for our most vulnerable citizens – our children.  In Oklahoma, nearly 24 percent of all children live in food-insecure households, and 62 percent of Oklahoma public school students are enrolled in a free or reduced-price meal program.

The Tulsa Area United Way service area includes Tulsa, Creek, Wagoner, Osage, Rogers and Okmulgee counties, where the number of children eligible for free and reduced price meals program exceeds 98,000 students. This includes 30,000 eligible students in Tulsa Public Schools alone.  Without school, many students are at risk of being hungry.

continue reading In a potential teacher walkout, communities must step up to fill the nutrition gap (Guest post: Brent Sadler)

New Oklahoma STABLE accounts will make it easier for Oklahomans with disabilities to save for the future (Guest Post: Amy Smith)

by | March 28th, 2018 | Posted in Financial Security | Comments (3)

Amy Smith, an OK Policy Summer Policy Institute alumna, is a graduate student in Disability Studies and an intern in the LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She lives in Ada with her husband and the three of her four children who haven’t yet flown the coop.

Update (06/01/18): Oklahoma’s STABLE accounts are now available here

Most all of us understand the importance of saving money for the future, and that understanding leads many of us to take advantage of tax-free savings and retirement plans such as 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, and 529 college savings plans. But for the 4.5 million disabled adults relying on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) payments, saving money for the future has been discouraged until the recent passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

That’s because SSI has an asset cap: if recipients have more than $2,000 in assets (including savings), they lose their benefits. This cap makes SSI different from traditional Social Security payments, which are reduced if income or savings exceed a certain amount. With traditional Social Security payments, you still get the benefit, but it’s smaller as your assets increase. But SSI benefits are not adjusted down; they are simply cancelled if you exceed the asset cap. 

Living under this asset cap made it impossible for SSI recipients to do something as simple as save up the money required to move into their own apartments, for example. $2,000 isn’t always enough to cover first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit for someone trying to move into their own apartment. It also doesn’t allow much for furniture, daily transportation, or out-of-pocket medical expenses. Saving for an emergency was out of the question. Staying under the $2,000 limit created a “spend-down” mentality where money had to be spent on something, anything, in order to keep receiving critical benefits.

continue reading New Oklahoma STABLE accounts will make it easier for Oklahomans with disabilities to save for the future (Guest Post: Amy Smith)

Capital gains deduction is an expensive loophole benefiting a small number of Oklahomans (Guest post: Cynthia Rogers, Ph.D)

by | February 26th, 2018 | Posted in Taxes | Comments (3)

Cynthia Rogers

Cynthia Rogers, PhD, is a professor of economics at the University of Oklahoma and a commissioner on the State of Oklahoma’s Incentive Evaluation Commission.

The Capital Gains Tax Deduction allows Oklahoma taxpayers to avoid paying taxes on income from the sale of Oklahoma real estate or stock in an Oklahoma-based firm where the assets have been held for a sufficient period (68 OS § 2358). The goal of the deduction seems to be to promote investment and access to capital for Oklahoma-based firms.

In an analysis for the state’s Incentive Evaluation Commission, PFM Group Consulting, LLC recommended that the capital gains tax deduction be eliminated. PFM concluded that the program cannot be shown to generate a positive return on investment for the state with the available data. As an IEC commissioner and an economist, I agree.

continue reading Capital gains deduction is an expensive loophole benefiting a small number of Oklahomans (Guest post: Cynthia Rogers, Ph.D)

Lunch shaming is real – but we can end it (Guest Post: Effie Craven)

Effie Craven is the State Advocacy and Public Policy Director for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

Imagine you are a child waiting in the school lunch line with your friends.  You laugh and joke as you move through the line and get your trays, enjoying the break from class.  But when you get to the cashier and scan your meal card, there is not enough money for your lunch.  Your tray is taken from you – your hot meal is thrown away and replaced by a cheese sandwich as your classmates look on.

Practices like this, known as lunch shaming, are all too common in schools. And these practices are emotionally damaging to children, who have no control over their family’s financial situation and are often facing food insecurity at home as well. One in four Oklahoma children has inconsistent access to adequate, healthy food. The National School Breakfast and School Lunch Programs provide critical nutrition support to more than 425,000 Oklahoma children every year, but many students are either not eligible or not enrolled in the free and reduced price school meals programs.

continue reading Lunch shaming is real – but we can end it (Guest Post: Effie Craven)

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