In The Know: 50,000+ approved for Medicaid expansion coverage during 1st week | Next steps after managed care ruling? | More

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) What comes next after Supreme Court strikes down managed care plan?: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last week that the actions of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) implementing a capitated managed care plan — at the direction of Gov. Stitt — violated state law and was therefore void. The Court said OHCA acted without legislative authorization and without first adopting necessary administrative rules for the bidding process. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

We’re Hiring: Applications close 5 p.m. today for two policy team positions:  OK Policy is hiring for three positions on our policy team, two of which have an application deadline of 5:00 p.m., today (Monday, June 7). We are hiring for: Housing & Infrastructure Senior Policy Analyst (closes June 7); Immigration Policy Analyst (closes June 7); and Criminal Justice Policy Analyst (closes June 14).

Oklahoma News

More than 51,000 Oklahomans have been approved for benefits through Medicaid expansion: More than 51,000 Oklahomans have been approved for health benefits through Medicaid expansion less than a week after applications opened. That’s over a quarter of the 200,000 Oklahomans expected to enroll for benefits in the first year of expanded Medicaid. Data shared Friday morning by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority showed that 51,708 residents have been approved for benefits through SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program, since applications opened on Tuesday. Over 33,000 — about 65% — are women. The number of new applicants “certainly tracks with the pent up demand for Oklahomans to secure health care coverage,” given the state’s high uninsured rates, said Emma Morris, health care and revenue policy analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute. [The Oklahoman] The Health Care Authority has projected that about 215,000 residents would qualify for expanded Medicaid for a total annual cost of about $1.3 billion. [AP News] Families USA report: Medicaid expansion is estimated to add $1.3 billion to the state economy and add 26,000 new jobs

  • Community leaders urge Enid residents who qualify for Medicaid to apply [Enid News & Eagle]

Fate of Medicaid privatized managed care uncertain after Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling: The fate of privatized managed care for Medicaid patients in Oklahoma remains up in the air. The Oklahoma Supreme Court in a recent 6-3 decision invalidated the more than $2 billion in contracts the state’s Medicaid agency, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, signed with companies. The state’s high court, among other things, ruled the agency did not have legislative approval or promulgate rules. [Tulsa World] “Oklahoma physicians were virtually united in opposition to this plan,” said Allison LeBoeuf, executive director, Oklahoma Osteopathic Association. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

  • From gaming compacts to Medicaid, Gov. Kevin Stitt keeps losing high-profile court cases [The Oklahoman]
  • Capitol Insider: Supreme Court shoots down managed care plan [KGOU]
  • Questions linger about Medicaid expansion after Supreme Court ruling [KFOR]
  • Editorial: Move on from privatizing Medicaid and work [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial

Oklahoma law journal details contributions of Black lawyers, civil rights struggles in court system before and after 1921: As part of its efforts to commemorate the 100th year since the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Oklahoma Bar Association dedicated the bulk of its May journal issue to stories about Black Oklahomans and legal achievements they’ve made since statehood. [Tulsa World]

  • As spotlight on Tulsa Race Massacre dims, leaders mull centennial’s long-term impact on Greenwood [Tulsa World]
  • President And National Press Gone, Advocates Continue Push For Massacre Reparations [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • I-244 Through Greenwood Listed In National ‘Freeways Without Futures’ Report [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Burial sites for victims of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre found at cemetery [The Black Wall Street Times]

Tulsa’s Black Native Americans say there’s another bit of Black Wall Street history that deserves attention: On Monday, Tulsans commemorated the 100th anniversary of a two-day assault by armed white men on Tulsa’s prosperous Black community of Greenwood, known around the country as Black Wall Street, calling attention to an era of deadly mob assaults on Black communities that official history long suppressed. But Kristi Williams, and other descendants of the freed Black people enslaved by Native American nations who once owned much of the land under Tulsa, say there’s another part of Black Wall Street’s history that more Americans need to know about. [Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham: U.S. will only be a global economic power if racial wealth gap goes away: As the centennial commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre came to an end, a theme emerged: Eliminate the racial wealth gap for U.S. economic global dominance. Two sides of downtown Tulsa on Tuesday served as bookends to the days-long reflective and emotional anniversary. Both evoked the horror of the massacre, but then made calls to action. [Ginnie Graham / Column]

Greenwood Rising makes strong impact on first visitors: ‘It makes it very real’: The pictures inside Greenwood Rising History Center of Black people being hanged from bridges unnerved Sincere Johnson. “It was kind of hard to digest; it was scary,” he said. One of the pictures, taken in Okemah on May 25, 1911, shows the lynching of Laura D. Nelson and her son, L.D. Their lifeless bodies hang from ropes tied around their necks. The river below is placid. [Tulsa World]

  • New website created by OSU students promotes ‘Women of Black Wall Street’ [Tulsa World]
  • Greenwood Art Project Installation Redefines The “American Dream” [KGOU]

State & Local Government News

Lawmaker: Marijuana law to benefit legitimate firms: A Republican lawmaker from Bristow says a new state law will better protect legitimate medical marijuana businesses and expose criminal activity. State Sen. James Leewright was the principal author of Senate Bill l033, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt. He said it set the stage for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to develop agreements to advance the work of both. [The Journal Record]

Tulsa ransomware response: Option for utility payments back online: About a month after a ransomware attack caused the city of Tulsa to take measures to protect its computer systems, electronic payments have been restored for utility customers. Some customers have received their bills or autopay statements in the mail, according to a Friday news release from the city. Payment due dates were adjusted for the delay. [Tulsa World]

Nonprofit Leadership Tulsa offering class aimed at curbing unopposed elections: Oklahoma has one of the nation’s highest rates of candidates for elected office running unopposed, but a Tulsa nonprofit is trying to change that. Leadership Tulsa Director of Programs and Community Impact Marcia Bruno-Todd said their new LT Represent class is a nonpartisan program intended to help people better understand what steps they need to take in order to run for and serve in elected or appointed office. [Public Radio Tulsa]

City of Tulsa COVID relief funds manager joining governor’s office: Gov. Kevin Stitt has reportedly lured another City of Tulsa employee to his office. City Coronavirus Relief Funds Program Manager Clay Holk will serve as director of a state grant management office, overseeing federal funds for pandemic response and expanding economic opportunity in Oklahoma. [Public Radio Tulsa]

As Oklahoma works to revive Route 66, life is returning to this abandoned Arcadia landmark: During the Great Depression, not long after Route 66 was commissioned as a national highway, an enterprising local family built a gas station, a bait shop and a motor court to lure travelers off the highway. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Don’t stifle dissent. Deal with underlying issues: Rather than protecting protesters from officers’ excessive force, legislators across the country this year mobilized to suppress protests and risk subjecting peaceful protesters to criminal liability or other harms through approximately 90 pieces of legislation, including in Oklahoma. [Puneet Cheema and Rep. Regina Goodwin Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Data issue left some Oklahoma tribes with little federal aid at height of pandemic: Shawnee Chief Ben Barnes grieved for people who died every week from COVID-19. When families called the tribe to help pay for funerals, Barnes had to turn them down. The U.S. Treasury Department counted the tribe’s population as zero instead of 3,100 when it distributed CARES Act relief funding a year ago. Bad data forced Barnes and other tribal leaders across the U.S. to respond to the pandemic with little federal aid. [The Oklahoman]

Kiowa Tribe approved for COVID relief funds: The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma has received official confirmation it will receive almost $51 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Carnegie-based tribe received the news from the U.S. Treasury Department regarding its Fiscal Recovery Funds from the act. According to the tribe’s information office, the amount received in the first of two allocations is identified as $50,966,838.27. [The Lawton Constitution]

Cherokee Nation Tribal Council election results: 41-year educator beats former speaker: Early this morning, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission released unofficial results from the June 5 Cherokee Nation Tribal Council election, which featured competition for nine of the council’s 17 seats. Five candidates won their seats outright, while four races will move on to a July 24 runoff election. All four incumbents on the June 5 ballot — Mike Dobbins, E.O. Smith, Mike Shambaugh and Victoria Vazquez — won their re-election outright. [NonDoc]

Health News

Counterfeit pills are killing Americans by the thousands. This Edmond family knows the heartache: In a police report, she left a north Oklahoma City bar with an acquaintance around 9 p.m. on Aug. 6 and drove to a drug dealer’s apartment to buy oxycodone. In a state Medical Examiner’s report, she died from a fatal mix of drugs that included fentanyl, a synthetic opioid about 100 times stronger than morphine, that international criminal cartels press into counterfeit prescription pills and smuggle into the United States by the millions each year. [The Oklahoman]

These 9 charts show how Oklahoma is handling the spread of COVID-19: How have case numbers changed over time? How many people have gotten vaccinated? Find out with these charts and maps, updated weekly. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

What Oklahoma lawmakers did and didn’t do on criminal justice this session: Looking to prevent widespread COVID-19 outbreaks behind bars, corrections officials in several states moved quickly in 2020 to release medically vulnerable and nonviolent prisoners. Wisconsin freed 1,600 people from its prisons from March 2 through May 4, 2020, most of them serving time for parole and probation violations. The Iowa Department of Corrections approved the release of 700 prisoners on March 23 of last year. In Oklahoma, just 12 of 126 prisoners whose cases were reviewed during a special medical parole hearing last May were granted early release. [Oklahoma Watch]

Most Oklahoma prisons operating normally following lockdown: Nearly all Oklahoma prisons returned to normal operations on Saturday after a statewide lockdown following a fight at one facility in the western part of the state. The statewide lockdown had been ordered on Friday after a fight among inmates at the North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre. [AP News]

Prison Discipleship establishes program to reintegrate former inmates upon release: A Tulsa ministry for inmates has announced a long-awaited expansion to ease former inmates’ reintegration into life outside of prison. Prison Discipleship, a faith-based nonprofit providing spiritual services to inmates in 30 prisons across Oklahoma, announced the creation of Project H.U.B., Hope through United Benefits. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

OKC to release new homelessness plan, establish new position: Oklahoma City is working to complete a new homelessness plan and will begin interviewing candidates for a new homeless services position. The plan is being prepared for public review and comment with the aim of releasing it by the end of June. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Working to address food insecurity in Tulsa: The pandemic illuminated a longstanding problem in Tulsa: hunger. Our own staff and community suffered during the turmoil and setbacks of 2020, compelling us to find a solution. What began as a short-term fix, has transformed the way we think about addressing food insecurity and bolstering revenue for small business. [Elizabeth Frame Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Economy & Business News

JBS hack raises food security issues in Oklahoma: When suspected Russian hackers launched a massive cyberattack against JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, both the food industry and consumers were rocked with insecurity. The hack, which the White House says originated from a criminal organization likely based in Russia, forced the company to stop operations at nine beef processing plants across the U.S. and caused a 22% reduction in processing on Tuesday and a 15% drop on Wednesday. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma’s summer drought outlook: The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows an increasing area of red, symbolizing extreme to exceptional drought, over much of the southwest that extends along California and up into Oregon. This is a stark contrast compared to the same time last year. [KGOU]

These 10 charts show the state of the housing market in Tulsa: Are home prices going up or down? Which areas are the hotspots for buyers and sellers? Find out with these regularly updated charts and maps. [Tulsa World]

These 6 charts show how the economy is performing in Tulsa and Oklahoma: Find out how unemployment has changed over time, plus how small businesses are doing, and more economic indicators with these charts and maps, updated weekly. [Tulsa World]

Education News

TPS voters head to the polls Tuesday to consider $414 million bond package: Tulsa Public Schools is asking for support Tuesday as it puts a five-year, four-part $414 million bond package before voters. Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. State law requires a 60% supermajority for school bonds to pass. If adopted, the proposal would keep property tax rates level and replace the district’s 2015 bond package that is scheduled to be retired in August. [Tulsa World]

Epic Charter Schools now wants in on spending records State Auditor just won in court: pic Charter Schools went to court Friday seeking the same access to student Learning Fund spending records controlled by its now former management company that was just granted to Oklahoma’s State Auditor. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Lower Bricktown developers hope to add hotels, housing to OKC entertainment district [The Oklahoman]
  • In Edmond, a contentious debate over development [The Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“With Oklahoma’s dubious distinction for having among the nation’s highest uninsured rates, the number of applicants certainly tracks with the pent up demand for Oklahomans to secure health care coverage.”

-Emma Morris, OK Policy’s Health Care and Revenue Policy Analyst, speaking about the 50,000+ Oklahomans approved for health care coverage during the first week of Medicaid expansion applications [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who have been approved for health care coverage through Medicaid expansion in the first four days that applications were open [The Oklahoman

Policy Note

Medicaid Expansion in Oklahoma: Creating jobs, helping the state budget, and protecting families: Medicaid expansion will provide a huge infusion of federal dollars to support Oklahoma’s struggling economy. With expansion, many more federal dollars would buy health care within the state. The resulting increased economic activity will not only ensure that thousands of uninsured Oklahomans would have access to coverage, it would also create jobs, and add revenue to state and local budgets. [Families USA]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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