In The Know: HHS Secretary visits Oklahoma to congratulate on Medicaid expansion | Reforming Oklahoma’s eviction laws

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

HHS Secretary Becerra visits Oklahoma to celebrate Medicaid expansion: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Tulsa on July 1 to help celebrate Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, calling it a victory for the 200,000 residents who could now have “peace of mind” through access to life-changing health care. [Dave Hamby / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

‘Access to peace of mind’: U.S. health secretary comes to Tulsa to celebrate Medicaid expansion: Meeting with local health care advocates Thursday morning, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra came to Tulsa to mark the first day of Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma as nearly 200,000 more state residents became qualified for the program. Oklahoma became the 37th state to join the federal government’s expanded Medicaid program as State Question 802 took effect. [Tulsa World] Secretary Becerra spoke briefly at Friendship Church in north Tulsa. Becerra praised advocates and health officials on hand for their work to get voters to approve expansion last year through a ballot measure. [Public Radio Tulsa] Carly Putnam, policy director for Oklahoma Policy Institute, echoed Becerra’s comments on the importance of those who are uninsured finally getting access to coverage. [The Black Wall Street Times]

  • Medicaid expansion will provide access to coverage for Oklahomans [U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services / Muskogee Phoenix]
  • Medicaid expansion takes effect in deep-red Oklahoma [AP News]
  • ‘I don’t have to worry’: Here’s what Medicaid expansion means to newly covered Oklahomans [The Oklahoman]
  • What you need to know about Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma: How to apply, who’s eligible [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Medicaid expansion kicks in, making eligible 190K low-income Americans [Healthcare Dive]
  • Expanded Medicaid benefits coming to more than 120,000 Oklahomans [FOX 25]
  • Medicaid expansion begins in Oklahoma, more than 200,000 people now have access to healthcare [FOX 23]
  • New SoonerCare Expansion Benefits Now In Effect [News on 6]

Impact: Two lawmakers seek studies on reforming Oklahoma eviction law: Two Oklahoma legislators, one Republican and one Democrat, have both requested interim studies be held on the state’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which governs a range of issues, including how evictions in the state are carried out. [The Frontier]

Health News

State publishes data on vaccinated people who caught COVID-19: The state health department is now releasing numbers on fully vaccinated people who got COVID-19. According to an epidemiology report released yesterday, 69 fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized and 11 have died in Oklahoma between December 2020 and June 28, 2021. There have been 737 known breakthrough cases total. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Highlights of the 79 new laws effective July 1 in Oklahoma: Thursday also marks the beginning of a new fiscal year for state of Oklahoma agencies, so a number of budget-related measures, including the general appropriations bill, House Bill 2900, also took effect. The state’s fiscal year 2022 budget is $9.1 billion. [Tulsa World]

Unemployment claims moderately decline as state ends enhanced federal benefits for Oklahomans to spur employment: As enhanced federal unemployment benefits were ending in Oklahoma, first-time unemployment claims declined for the second consecutive week, according to a government report. [Tulsa World]

State lawmaker says years-long flooding at capitol complex needs to be fixed: The tunnels connecting the buildings in the State Capitol’s North Complex are once again filling with water. State Rep. Mark McBride says the problem has been going on for years, but this flooding is the worst it’s ever been. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Bill by Rep. Stephanie Bice prompted by injuries to Oklahoma National Guard member: Rep. Stephanie Bice introduced legislation this week to ensure National Guard members who are disabled while on active duty in their states can get federal health care and disability benefits. [The Oklahoman]

Funds to advance levee rehab, navigation system improvements included in federal budget requests: Reconstruction work on the Tulsa-west Tulsa levee system could begin as soon as late 2022 if U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s funding requests make it through the federal budgeting process. [Tulsa World] With earmarks reinstated in the congressional budgeting process, Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has requested $13.8 million to push ahead improvements for Tulsa’s levee system. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma delegation opposes infrastructure bill despite earmarks: Oklahoma’s entire House delegation voted against a bill that would allot $55 million in earmarks toward infrastructure projects in the state, representing a shift in the traditional earmarks process in a hyper-partisan era. [The Norman Transcript]

Economy & Business News

Despite shortages and limited selection, Oklahoma’s fireworks business is still booming: Fireworks sales are popping off in Oklahoma despite worldwide shipping delays resulting from the lingering coronavirus pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

181 districts receive grants for School Counselor Corps: To help Oklahoma schools meet the needs of children in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oklahoma State Department of Education is awarding grants to 181 school districts across the state – including a dozen in southwest Oklahoma – to hire school counselors and school-based mental health professionals. [Southwest Ledger]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma County Commissioners approve millions in new fiscal year spending [OKC Free Press]
  • NBA arena upgrades, new coliseum could come first as Oklahoma City begins MAPS 4 project plans [The Oklahoman]
  • Greenwood Rising delays grand opening [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma LGBTQ veterans find support, acceptance with Belong Group [The Oklahoman]
  • Jeff Bezos picks OSU alum and female aerospace pioneer to launch with him [The Oklahoman]
  • Dr. Kayse Shrum takes reins as Oklahoma State University president [Tulsa World]
  • New University President: Tulsa ‘Won’t Be Successful Without A Thriving TU’ [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“July 1 will go down in history as the day Oklahoma expanded access to peace of mind.”

-Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, speaking about Oklahoma implementing Medicaid expansion [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma reported having 74,600 fewer non-farm jobs in April 2021 compared to the February 2020 pre-pandemic report.

[Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Policy Note

Where Jobless Benefits Were Cut, Jobs Are Still Hard to Fill: Conversations with employers who are hunting for workers and people who are hunting for jobs reveal stark differences in expectations and assumptions about what a day’s work is worth. The divide raises a fundamental question of what a healthy labor market looks like. Does it mean workers are on such a knife edge that they feel compelled to take the first job that comes along? Or is it one in which employers are the ones who have to scramble and feel pressured to raise wages and improve working conditions? Are the economy and the public better off when workers get to be choosy or when employers do? [New York Times]

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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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