In The Know: Affordable Care Act reforms draw closer

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 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.

In The News

Affordable Care Act questions and answers

What will the Affordable Care Act do to my health insurance rates? It depends on who you ask. David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said people with private insurance won’t see any immediate impact and, over time, they could hope to see the law’s cost-containment initiatives get the costs of health care under control. The Oklahoma Policy Institute has supported the Affordable Care Act. Jonathan Small, fiscal policy director of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said because of many of the mandates and forced increases in the law, many people will see health insurance increases, particularly young healthy people. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has opposed the act.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Tulsans represent key areas of debate over health care law

Maisha Cazenave, Don Wyatt, Mike Sperry, Dr. John Tipton, Billy Kulkin and James Johnson are your neighbors. They also represent key areas of the continuing debate over the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care law. Cazenave doesn’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford insurance. Wyatt sees the law as a threat to his liberty and his savings. Sperry is uninsurable because of a pre-existing condition. Tipton is a primary-care physician who works with a lot of Medicaid patients. Kulkin runs a small business. Johnson, 24, is covered by his parents’ health insurance. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law is constitutional, but that hardly settles the issue. It only moves the argument back to the political arena, where people like Cazenave, Wyatt, Sperry, Tipton, Kulkin and Johnson – and the points they make – could determine the future of the nation’s health.

Read more from The Tulsa World.

Oklahoma has until November to develop its health care plan

Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the mandates in the Affordable Health Care Act leaves Oklahoma’s state leaders and lawmakers with a decision to make. Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the state has until November to create its own state-run health insurance exchange or be absorbed into the federal system. Oklahoma lawmakers nearly created a state-run health insurance exchange in 2009 after a Republican-majority Legislature sent an exchange bill to Democratic Gov. Brad Henry to sign. The exchange idea had widespread support but never materialized amid the economic collapse and budget crisis.

Read more from the Pryor Daily Times.

See also: Oklahoma officials must get busy creating health exchanges from NewsOK

Governor Fallin says state needs to study implications of of high court decision

Oklahoma’s Republican leaders who delayed implementing provisions of the federal health care law in hopes it would be thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court reacted Thursday with a lack of urgency after the high court upheld most of the legislation backed by President Barack Obama. Now they are hoping the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be thrown out by means of a Republican presidential victory in the Nov. 6 general election. The federal health care law requires states to submit plans for health insurance exchanges if states don’t want to use a federal system. The federal government will impose its version of an insurance exchange on states that don’t set up their own.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: High court ruling muddies Medicaid picture in Oklahoma from NewsOK; State cost of health reform likely to be modest and could yield net savings from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Oklahoma employment numbers set record in May

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, according to figures released Friday. The jobless rate declined 0.2 percentage points from the 5 percent rate of April, and is down 1.1 percentage points in the past year, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported. “That’s pretty dadgum strong in this day and age,” University of Oklahoma economist Robert Dauffenbach said. The national unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 8.2 percent in May.

Read more from NewsOK.

Hispanic population increases in OKC metro area

David Castillo has seen the city change over the past decade. As president of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, what census data shows in numbers, Castillo sees on the streets of the city and the businesses flourishing there. “The growth is continuing and will continue for a long time,” Castillo said. Along SW 29 and other main thoroughfares on the city’s south side, mom-and-pop Hispanic businesses are thriving — restaurants, automotive repair shops, markets and barbershops. Castillo said that in 2008 there were 150 members of the chamber. Today, there are nearly 400. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the Hispanic community in Oklahoma City grew 95 percent between 2000 and 2010 to just more than 110,000.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma capitol, other state buildings become tobacco free Sunday

Tobacco users in state office buildings operated by the Central Services Department — including the Capitol — will get an early jump on having to get by without smoking or chewing while at work. An executive order issued by Gov. Mary Fallin in February doesn’t take effect until next month, but effective Sunday the 18 buildings in the Capitol complex and state office buildings in Tulsa are to be tobacco free, said John Morrison, administrator of the Central Services Department. “We just decided to go ahead and do it,” Morrison said. The mood in the smoking room in the basement of the Capitol was glum Friday, the last day the windowless room was to be open for smokers who work in the building. A handwritten note on a piece of paper attached to a wall proclaimed since the governor issued her order that “The end is near.” Friday, someone scratched out the word “near” and replaced it with “now.”

Read more from NewsOK.

David Dank: Real tax credit reform would benefit all taxpayers

When the legislative session ended without delivering promised tax relief, puzzled taxpayers wondered why. In fact, a primary reason our legislators failed to agree on tax cuts for all 3.5 million Oklahomans was that they failed to address a widely abused tax credit system that gives hundreds of millions each year to a favored few. We began with two goals: address the tax credit mess and use those savings to help fund tax relief for all. The task force I chaired last year clearly showed that Oklahoma’s tax credit system was broken and widely abused. Tax credits that help create jobs and return more than they cost to the state treasury are worth it; others are simple giveaways, generously subsidizing industries that neither need nor merit the help. They’re a drain on state revenues that must be made up by ordinary taxpayers who don’t have the luxury of cashing in multimillion-dollar tax credits each year.

Read more from NewsOK.

Super PACs get $5 million from Oklahoma contributors

Contributors with Oklahoma addresses gave more than $5 million to Super PACs as of the most recent date covered in Federal Election Commission fundraising reports, data shows. Almost three-quarters of the total amount contributed came out of the city of Tulsa, a Tulsa World analysis of itemized contributions to Super PACs shows. Nearly all — 99.5 percent — of the just more than $3.6 million contributed to Super PACs from Tulsa came from three sources, two of them connected. Separate contribution amounts from those sources ranged between $425,000 and $1.25 million, data shows. Joseph W. Craft, of Tulsa, made the largest single contribution to a Super PAC during the time period covered.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

In all honesty, Oklahoma needs to quit taking the wait-and-see approach. It is what it is. Go forward, make it the absolute best system you can for your citizens in the current environment. If the environment changes, then go back in and adjust accordingly later.

-Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, speaking about Oklahoma’s inaction on implementing health reform

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma counties, out of 77, where 2/3rds or more of the adults have not completed at least two years of education after high school, 2010

Source: U.S. Census via Lumina Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Price tags for parents

The sticker shock would even greater if the sticker price were accurate. Every year the Department of Agriculture publishes estimates of family spending on children. This year, as in other years, many journalists duly passed the information on, often with snide asides about the “gift that keeps on taking” or the escalating price of bundles of joy. A married middle-income two-child family can expect to spend about $235,000 on housing, medical care, food, clothing, toys and other items over the next 17 years for a child born in 2011. The costs of college are extra. But — as an article in The Wall Street Journal recently noted — the official estimates omit consideration of the value of the time that parents devote to children, because that is considered an indirect rather than a direct expenditure. Indirect costs are not insignificant. Time taken out of paid employment to provide family care reduces the lifetime earnings of mothers, in particular, leaving them vulnerable to poverty if they are unmarried or experience divorce.

Read more from Economix.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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