In The Know: Family, advocates say insurers disproportionately deny mental illness treatment

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.

Oklahoma Watch shared the story of an Oklahoma family and their struggles to get their insurance company to cover their daughter’s mental illness. Advocates say that insurers disproportionately deny claims for mental illness treatment, despite state and federal laws requiring otherwise. Oklahoma Watch also released a timeline of the family’s fight to get insurers to cover her treatment. NewsOn6 discussed why Oklahomans say it’s a bad time for a proposed income tax cut to go into effect. Dozens of churches, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations are urging lawmakers to halt the tax cut. On the OK Policy blog, we explained that halting the tax cut doesn’t require a supermajority. Your organization can sign a letter telling lawmakers to stop the tax cut here.

Lawmakers say that a plan to give teachers a $1,000 pay raise with money that would otherwise go in a teacher pension fund is under consideration. The Oklahoman’s editorial board urged lawmakers not to raid funds from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to fill the budget hole. Low revenues from oil and gas production, combined with low first-quarter earnings in the energy sector, make crafting a budget an uncertain process. Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton suggested Oklahoma lawmakers are unwilling or unable to offer big-picture leadership. Following a story earlier this week about Oklahomans serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes, NewsOK profiled two women spending life in prison for nonviolent offenses. Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman says that he plans to offer legislation to fund a pop culture museum in Tulsa.

Embattled Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz says that he appointed friends and supporters as appraisers as a reward for supporting him. Those “political patronage” appointments earned up to $51,000 per person per year appraising foreclosures, but Glanz says the practice is common across the state. The Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force has agreed to reduce the cost of of a low-water dam package by 25 percent. Health officials say the state has seen its 113th flu death this season, but that the flu season seems to be winding down. Nearly a dozen students at a Tulsa high school have been suspended for a social media post portraying vandalism and a homophobic slur.

Oklahoma wheat growers are anticipating a harvest nearly twice the size of last year’s meager yield. The Number of the Day is 12th – the ranking of Tulsa-Muskogee-Bartlesville in the American Lung Association’s list of the most ozone-polluted cities. Oklahoma City-Shawnee ranked 15th. In today’s Policy Note, The Washington Post examines data showing that an alarming number of teenagers are dropping out of high school to find work.

In The News

Family, Advocates: Mentally Ill Get Short Shrift From Insurers

The dining room table inside Karie Dove’s rural Bridge Creek home is a patchwork of papers. Many are written in the dry, technical prose used by insurance companies. The story they tell, however, is one of heartbreak and financial disaster for Dove and her family.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

See also: A Timeline for Mental-Health Treatment from Oklahoma Watch.

Oklahomans Say It’s Bad Timing For Proposed Tax Cut

With the state facing a more than $600 million budget shortfall, some are criticizing an upcoming tax cut. It’s estimated to save the average middle-income family $31 a year, but nearly 100 corporate leaders and nonprofit agencies said now’s not the right time and sent a letter to the governor and lawmakers calling for immediate action.

Read more from NewsOn6.

See also: Dozens of businesses, non-profits, churches and other organizations call for halting tax cut­­­.

No, halting the tax cut doesn’t need a supermajority

Unless the Legislature acts to halt it, the state’s top income tax rate will fall from 5.25 to 5 percent next January based on legislation passed last session, SB 1246, that tied the top rate cut to a revenue trigger. Even though the trigger was supposed to ensure that the tax cut would not take effect unless revenues were growing, the trigger was drafted in such a way as to kick in despite falling oil prices and projected revenue drops.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

See also: Sign-On Letter: Halt the Tax Cut from Together OK.

Oklahoma teacher pay raise plan under consideration

A plan under active consideration at the state Capitol would provide a $1,000 pay raise to Oklahoma teachers, largely funded with money that would otherwise go to a teacher pension fund. Sen. James Halligan, R-Stillwater, has been outspoken in favor of the proposal, which has won support from education groups as final work is being done on a new statewide budget.

Read more from NewsOK.

Lawmakers should resist urge to tap into Oklahoma road funds

Oklahoma House Democrats took a page from Rahm Emanuel’s playbook this week, standing under a damaged Belle Isle bridge in Oklahoma City to argue that Republicans shouldn’t consider filling the state’s budget hole by cutting funding from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. It was Emanuel who as White House chief of staff famously said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Read more from The Oklahoman.

Battered First Quarter Energy Earnings Could Paint Uncertain Picture For Budget Writers

It’s been an interesting week in Oklahoma’s energy sector. On Tuesday, state treasurer Ken Miller released his office’s monthly revenue figures, which showed collections from oil and natural gas production dropped by more than 54 percent compared to April 2014. A day later, several energy companies released their first quarter earnings for this year.

Read more from KGOU.

Lawmakers like to think small

Oklahoma lawmakers just love to designate official state “things” – there’s a state rock (rose), state dance (square), state insect (honeybee), even a state soil (Port Silt Loam). Maybe it’s time for the Legislature to adopt an official slogan of its own: Think small. When was the last time the state’s elected leaders conceived and implemented a truly big idea – a visionary proposal to move the state forward?

See more from the Journal Record.

Behind the story: meet two women serving life without parole for drugs

As part of this story I wrote about Oklahoma offenders serving life without parole for drugs, I wrote letters to 54 inmates (one more was added after I sent the letters). As their responses started to pile up on the corner of my desk, I noticed none of the six women had written me back but nearly half of the men did.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: “I will die in prison for a nonviolent crime” from NewsOK.

Senate leader talks funding for proposed pop museum in Tulsa

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman on Thursday said a solid business plan exists to fund a proposed popular culture museum in Tulsa. With only a few weeks left in the session, Bingman, R-Sapulpa, plans to offer legislation in an attempt to make the project a reality after years of failed attempts.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Millions paid to Stanley Glanz supporters he appointed as appraisers

Some friends and supporters of Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz — including the daughter of former Reserve Deputy Robert Bates — have received up to $51,000 a year from what the sheriff acknowledges are “political patronage” positions, according to court records. Glanz, in an interview with the Tulsa World on Thursday, said he appoints sheriff’s appraisers as a reward for support to him and for service to the community.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

River task force reduces scope, cost of dam proposal

The Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force this morning agreed to reduce the scope of a proposed low-water dam package, reducing the cost by about 25 percent. The latest proposal eliminates park amenities at the four proposed dams and modifies plans for the Bixby dam. The changes cut the cost of the proposal from $316 million to $235.3 million.

Read more from The Frontier.

Oklahoma health officials report 113th death due to flu as season appears to wind down

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is reporting the 113th death due to the flu as the season that has seen a record for deaths in the state appears to be winding down. The department said Thursday that one person has died due to flu in the past week.

Read more from The Republic.

Nearly a dozen Booker T. Washington students suspended after social media post of vandalism, gay slur

The Booker T. Washington High School community has been grappling with controversy after a poster to promote awareness about bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students was defaced and nearly a dozen students were suspended as a result. One student recorded another student vandalizing the poster on school property. The images were then posted to a social media website called Phhhoto with the caption including a gay slur, “Don’t tread on me, f—–.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma wheat growers anticipate better harvest this year

Oklahoma wheat growers are expecting a better harvest but not a bumper crop in 2015 after one of the worst harvests in half a century last year. The Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association projected at its annual meeting Wednesday that Oklahoma’s wheat crop yield would be about 111.7 million bushels this year, more than double last year’s meager harvest.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

“I want to help myself. It took jail and almost death to make me realize I have to push through it no matter how hard it gets. I have hope they will find me a place. I have faith that things will work out. I have to. I don’t have an option. I can’t give up again.”

– A 19 year-old Oklahoma girl with severe bipolar disorder who became homeless after her family’s insurance refused to cover the treatment she needed. She has been enrolled in an Oklahoma City-based mental health treatment program, but will likely live in a shelter for several weeks until the program’s housing becomes available. Although the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide the same level of coverage for physical and mental ailments, advocates say that companies continue to disproportionately deny claims for mental health services (Source)

Number of the Day


Ranking of Tulsa-Muskogee-Bartlesville in the American Lung Association’s list of the most ozone-polluted cities. Oklahoma City-Shawnee ranked 15th.

Source: American Lung Association via KGOU.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

An alarming number of teenagers are quitting school to work

Teenagers drop out of high school for all sorts of reasons: lack of motivation, little support from parents, poor academic performance. But for some low-income students, the decision to leave is purely economic. Many are going to work so they can start making money to help their families. Using data from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey, researchers at the Urban Institute found that nearly a third of the 563,000 teenage dropouts left school to work. These 16- to 18-year-olds were disproportionately male and Hispanic, and ended their education either at the beginning of high school or nearing the end.

Read more from The Washington Post.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “In The Know: Family, advocates say insurers disproportionately deny mental illness treatment

  1. Mental health is one of the greatest health issues that our nation is currently facing. The amounts of patients in need of TMS therapies or acquiring heavy mental medication are constantly increasing. If this issue is not resolved soon, it will become a health crisis.

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