In The Know: Governor to submit Medicaid expansion request today; update on Uninsured Vehicle Diversion program; and 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

Oklahoma will submit Medicaid expansion request Friday, Gov. Kevin Stitt says: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority on Friday will submit to the federal government a state plan amendment seeking to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma as soon as this summer. [The Oklahoman] Lawmakers said Stitt apparently can file the paperwork without legislative approval or a funding mechanism. Stitt also doesn’t yet have to unveil any details of his keystone health care plan, SoonerCare 2.0. Critics, though, believe SoonerCare 2.0 is likely to face years of legal challenges, ultimately delaying health care access for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. [CNHI] While the governor said no final determination has been made about where the $150 million will come from, discussions are ongoing in the Oklahoma Legislature and with health care industry professionals. [The Journal Record ????] OK Policy previously noted that any option other than full Medicaid expansion wastes taxpayer dollars and endangers lives.

First prosecutions of uninsured drivers caught on camera could happen this year: Launched in late 2018, the Uninsured Vehicle Diversion program (UVED) has enrolled more than 14,000 drivers and generated more than $2 million in fees from drivers caught driving without insurance. But so far no one has been prosecuted, with program prosecutor Amanda Arnall Couch opting for a more gentle approach. “We’ve wanted to get people used to the program, and used to having insurance,” Couch said. “So far I’ve not sent anyone to prosecution, though that is coming. Eventually these will turn into criminal cases with the DA’s.” [The Frontier]

Inhofe, Lankford oppose $1 million cut to rural schools: Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators have opposed a U.S. Department of Education decision that could shift more than $1 million away from rural schools in the state. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford joined 19 other senators Wednesday to sign a letter addressed to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The letter criticizes the Department of Education for adjusting eligibilty requirements for the Rural Low-Income Schools program — a change the senators said could divert funding from 800 schools nationwide. [The Oklahoman]

Epic Charter Schools’ for-profit management firm refuses to release documents to investigators, Oklahoma attorney general says: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office went to court on Thursday because it says Epic Charter Schools’ for-profit operator has not been cooperating with the state’s investigative audit. In July, Gov. Kevin Stitt requested an investigative audit of Epic and all its related entities by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation awards $6 million to local school districts, challenges Oklahoma to follow its lead: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. urged Oklahoma to put its money where its mouth is moments before his tribe donated over $6 million to 108 area school districts. Hoskin expressed frustration for a decade of devastating state funding cuts to education and reminded district leaders that his tribe has given $62.3 million to local districts since 2002. [Tulsa World] The tribe dedicates 38% of its car tag revenue to education. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Sales, energy tax revenues slip again: Oklahoma’s economy showed signs of slowing again in February as revenue to the state government dropped 1.5% from the same month a year ago. Collection from the state sales tax and the tax on oil and gas production dropped for the sixth straight month in February, according to state Treasurer Randy McDaniel. [The Oklahoman

Oklahoma Senate advances bill to cut taxes on car sales involving trade-ins: Purchasing a vehicle with a trade-in could get a little cheaper in Oklahoma. The state Senate on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1619 by a vote of 32-12. It now heads to the House for consideration. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma House votes to raise minimum age for possession of tobacco products to 21: House Bill 1432, by Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, is similar to a measure passed by the Senate earlier this week. HB 1432 is broader in scope, however, in that it would outlaw not only sales to those under 21 but also receipt and possession of such products. It also would include all vapor products regardless of whether they are tobacco- or nicotine-based. [Tulsa World]

New bill would require school districts to have physical fitness tests: A new bill is in the works at the state capitol would require physical fitness tests for third to twelfth grade students in every school district. Supports of HB1051 said the data from the tests is needed to take a look at children’s health in the state and provide health interventions if needed. [NewsOn6]

Senate passes bill allowing wrongful death suits against doctors providing abortions: Senate Bill 1728 would hold doctors liable if they fail to screen a patient for signs of coercion or trick a patient into having an abortion, and Sen. David Bullard gave unverified statistics from anti-abortion groups as evidence doctors are doing the latter in most cases. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma authorities discuss rights under Marsy’s Law: Authorities and victims’ rights advocates gathered Thursday with prosecutors, court representatives and mental health professionals for a training session on rights under Marsy’s Law, which supporters say gives crime victims a greater voice in the legal system. [The Oklahoman]

Governor Kevin Stitt says state is prepared for coronavirus: As coronavirus angst grips the nation, state officials gathered at the Capitol on Thursday to ensure Oklahomans they are prepared if and when the disease finds its way here. [The Oklahoman] All five U.S. House members from Oklahoma voted Wednesday for emergency legislation to combat the coronavirus. [The Oklahoman]

Flu death toll in Oklahoma rises to 53: State health officials on Thursday reported eight more people died from the flu this season. A total of 53 fatalities have been reported since the flu season began in September, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health records. [Tulsa World]

Competing recreational marijuana petition filed to change Oklahoma constitution: A third constitutional initiative petition has been filed seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma, but organizers expect to withdraw and refile it by next week after some problems were identified in the language. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma County jail focus of new architecture class at OU: A new fall class at the University of Oklahoma will look at future design possibilities to improve the Oklahoma County jail. The overall theme of the class will center around using architecture and design to lower generational cycles of incarceration, particularly when women are incarcerated, according to the class description. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Corporation Commission adopts more restrictive proration order for unallocated natural gas wells: A majority of elected members of Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission voted Thursday to limit how much natural gas is produced by the state’s most prolific wells. [The Oklahoman] Supporters of the action say the move will reduce a glut of natural gas supplies and prop up prices. Critics claim the measure will do little to affect the market, arguing production is already in decline and that demand will rise. [The Journal Record ????]

Study: Tulsa Police Department needs to improve use-of-force reporting and review those policies: The Tulsa Police Department should report more low-level uses of force, improve documentation of all force encounters and rethink how it deploys canines — which account for “a surprisingly high” 28% of all force incidents, according to a recently released study. [Tulsa World]

Disabilities Awareness Day is Tuesday: Oklahoma’s first mobile People with Disabilities Awareness Day is set for March 10, marking the first time Oklahomans with disabilities, their families and supporters can take part in the social media event from work, home or wherever they are. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Ultimately, funding Medicaid expansion must protect Oklahoma rural hospitals that are already cash-strapped. We do not want to put a disproportionate burden on vulnerable rural hospitals.”

-Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis speaking about a proposal to fund the Governor’s Medicaid alternative plan through an increase in hospital fees. [The Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma rural hospitals at risk of closing

[Source: U.S. News & World Report]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Major study suggests Medicaid work requirements are hurting people without really helping anybody: The first major study on the nation’s first Medicaid work requirements finds that people fell off of the Medicaid rolls but didn’t seem to find more work. Since Arkansas implemented the nation’s first Medicaid work requirements last year, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found, Medicaid enrollment has fallen for working-age adults, the uninsured rate has been rising, and there has been little discernible effect on employment. [Vox]

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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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