In The Know: Fallin weighs Medicaid expansion, health exchange

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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin says she is still weighing whether to accept federal funding to provide insurance coverage for low-income Oklahomans. OK Policy previously discussed why expanding coverage makes sense

Oklahoma faces a Nov. 16 deadline to submit a blueprint for creating a health care insurance exchange, or else it will be created by the federal government. Members of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee yelled at legislative leaders who were invited to speak at their meeting and urged them to refuse to cooperate with federal law.

Following the passage of an affirmative action ban in Oklahoma, state colleges and universities are assessing their programs to see if changes need to be made. Voters are confused about what passage of SQ 765 means for the future of the Department of Human Services. David Blatt writes in the Journal Record about voting and his path to American citizenship.

Education Secretary Phyllis Hudecki said that Oklahoma children are being overtested. The OK Policy Blog shared a video on how poor dental health harms school performance. A New York Times Magazine cover story profiled the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of SoonerCare/Medicaid enrollees in Oklahoma that are children, seniors, or disabled adults. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog shares five ways to make long election lines shorter.

In The News

Fallin weighs Medicaid expansion, health exchange

A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin says she isn’t rushing into a decision about accepting federal funding for a state Medicaid expansion under the provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act – although her own milestone for that decision has now come and gone. Meanwhile, her administration seems to be opening the door to the possibility that the state will establish a state-based health insurance exchange, an issue that had seemed to be resolved. The federal law would provide Medicaid services to all families at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level as one of its primary means of reducing the number of uninsured Americans. The federal government would pay for 100 percent of the cost of newly eligible Medicaid patients for three years and then gradually shifts costs to the state until a 10 percent cap was reached in 2020.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Oklahoma faces Nov. 16 deadline for creating health care insurance exchange from NewsOK; Avoiding the Medicaid ‘coverage crater’ from the OK Policy Blog

Group calls for legislative leaders to fight health care law and ‘thug-booted federal government’

Members of an Oklahoma conservative group were in a surly mood Wednesday after President Barack Obama’s re-election, with the head of the group urging legislative leaders to fight the “thug-booted federal government” and the national health care law. Several members attending the noon meeting of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee insisted their guest speakers, House Speaker Designate T.W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. “If there is no place that we’re willing to draw a line in the sand, I would urge you to get your knee pads out … so that the thug-booted federal government can step on you and start walking all over you,” said Charlie Meadows, the group’s chairman.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma colleges, universities prepare for changes following affirmative action ban

Following the passage of a ballot measure banning the use of affirmative action in Oklahoma, the state’s colleges and universities are assessing their programs to see where changes need to be made. Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities don’t use race as a factor in admissions but encourage campus diversity through other means, including marketing and recruiting practices. By not taking race into account in admissions, Gollahalli said, OU eliminates the largest area where questions could arise. The university also doesn’t administer state-funded scholarships based on race or gender.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma Voters Express Confusion Over SQ765 Concerning DHS

Oklahomans vote for change at a highly criticized state agency, but several voters are confused about the question they answered and what it could mean for the future of the Department of Human Services. Several voters considered State Question 765 “misleading and confusing,” but the bottom line is DHS will not be going anywhere; and that’s the message the state agency hopes to deliver. The phones were ringing at the DHS building Tuesday night. “Yes, you will still be getting all of the same benefits that you had before,” OKDHS staff told several callers. People will also retain their jobs, and can expect their work to be “business as usual.”

Read more from NewsOn6.

Prosperity Policy: Casting my vote

This week, I cast a ballot for president of the United States for just the second time in my life. I was born and raised in Canada. I’ve lived in the U.S. since 1989 and have been a permanent resident since 1996, but decided to apply for citizenship only six years ago. I voted for the first time in the 2006 gubernatorial election and then for president for the first time in 2008. Canadian immigrants are famously slow to become American citizens, often living here for decades before taking the plunge, if we ever do. Peter Jennings spent 38 years as a newscaster in the United States before becoming naturalized. David Frum, who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, only became a citizen in 2007. One reason for the reluctance to go through the naturalization process is that many Canadians don’t expressly immigrate to the United States. We move here for school or for a job, expecting to go back to Canada eventually. Then life happens.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Oklahoma education secretary hears complaints of overtesting from parents, students

Oklahoma children are being so overtested that they are losing critical learning time in the classroom, parents told state Education Secretary Phyllis Hudecki on Wednesday. “I agree. We’re testing too many things,” Hudecki said. “I don’t know exactly how it snowballed the way it has.” Hudecki appeared at a meeting of the Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee in Jenks to answer questions and listen to parents’ concerns. As a member of Gov. Mary Fallin’s Cabinet, she said she would take their ideas back to the governor. One parent suggested that the state use ACT college entrance exams, rather than end-of-instruction tests, to determine whether students are prepared for college. Hudecki said discussions are under way about “going back to use the ACT,” and she said a new data system is nearly in place to track students into their college years and analyze whether the EOIs are useful.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Watch This: Dental health and school performance

Students with poor dental health are nearly three times more likely to miss school than their healthy peers. Oklahoma kids have poor oral health overall. According to the Governor’s Task Force on Children and Oral Health: The statewide prevalence for dental caries (cavities) in Oklahoma third-graders was 69.4% – higher than any other state reported. (New Mexico and Wisconsin, for example, reported lower total caries experience of 60.1% and 64.6%, respectively.) The assessment also showed that the rate of untreated decay (40.2%) in Oklahoma third-graders was also higher than any other reported state. In this short video from The Pew Charitable Trusts, a high school student shares his experience with dental pain in the classroom, and experts outline the steps states can take to help kids stay healthy and focused in school.

Watch the video on the OK Policy Blog.

A Basketball Fairy Tale in Middle America

Oklahoma sits right in the middle of the country: it’s not the cultured East or the wild West or the frigid North or the humid South but exactly where all those things meet. The mountains touch the prairies, which touch the plains. This has created, over the millenniums, crazy animals and crazy weather and crazy 25-car pileups of culture. In 1889, the almost unbelievable land run sent tens of thousands of ragtag settlers from all over the country literally racing to claim tracts of practically uninhabitable land. Oklahoma, in other words, is the Hadron supercollider of states: it slams disparate things together, over and over, producing endless crises of cohesion.

Read more from The New York Times Magazine.

Quote of the Day

It is said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the context of the state budgeting process, it could be said the definition of insanity is continuing to plug budget holes with hundreds of millions of dollars in non-recurring revenues while at the same time working to eliminate the recurring ones.

State Treasurer Ken Miller

Number of the Day

81 percent

Percentage of SoonerCare/Medicaid enrollees in Oklahoma that are children, seniors, or disabled adults, 2010

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Five ways to make long election lines shorter

“I want to thank every American who participated in this election,” President Obama said in his acceptance speech Tuesday, “whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.” At the mention of long waits, Obama paused. “By the way, we have to fix that.” Election Day saw news story after news story about interminable lines at polling stations. In some areas, people waited for two hours, three hours, or more. To many observers, it seemed ludicrous that a country as advanced and as wealthy as the United States can’t figure out how to hold a decent election. So what was the problem? Why do long lines persist? And is there anything Obama and Congress can do to make our voting system more efficient?

Read more from Wonkblog.

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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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