In The Know: Managed care is bad investment for Oklahoma | COVID cases surging in rural OK | Gov. appoints agency heads

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

Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma: Following voters’ approval of Medicaid expansion during the June 30 election, Oklahoma’s next steps should be relatively simple. The state has already been providing high-quality, low-cost Medicaid for years; the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has a decades-long track record of excellence in efficiency and effectiveness. OHCA could expand Medicaid to cover more than 200,000 low-income Oklahomans for between $125 million and $164 million, all without raising taxes. Unfortunately, Gov. Stitt and OHCA CEO Kevin Corbett have unilaterally decided that after decades of proven results, Oklahoma should try something else, something that has never worked in the state, and something that, if other states’ experiences hold true here, will cost the state much more money than in-house expansion. Their proposal for managed care, though appealing in the abstract, harkens back to Oklahoma’s previous failed attempt at a similar plan. To avoid unnecessary cuts to provider rates or medical services, Oklahoma must ensure that Medicaid administration remains in the proven, capable hands of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma takes first step to outsource care for most Medicaid recipients: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority on Thursday took initial steps toward privatizing health care for many of the state’s poorest residents. The agency that oversees the state’s Medicaid program published two requests for proposals seeking for-profit companies to oversee medical and dental spending for 773,794 of the state’s nearly 1 million Medicaid recipients. [The Oklahoman]

COVID cases continue to surge in rural Oklahoma: Cases of COVID-19 are surging in rural counties of Oklahoma, reaching a record high. Since Oct. 1 cases have increased 24%, according to data from the Oklahoma State University for Rural Health. About 16% of all active COVID-19 cases are in rural counties with small populations. The cumulative mortality rate remains higher than in cities, with 34 deaths per 100,000. Rural Oklahoma makes up 34% of the state’s population, but 37% of COVID-19 related deaths. [KOSU]

  • COVID-19: 1,222 more cases, 11 new deaths reported in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]
  • COVID new case average, hospitalizations, ICU patients, active cases reach new highs in Oklahoma [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma without designated surge hospitals after contracts expire [NewsOn6]
  • ‘Overwhelmed’: Hospitals engulfed by rebounding virus [POLITICO]

State Government News

Gov. Kevin Stitt appoints 3 to lead health care agencies: Gov. Kevin Stitt has formally appointed three state agency heads to their positions. Stitt on Thursday dropped the “interim” title for Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Carrie Slatton-Hodges, Executive Director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs Rachel Holt and Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. [The Oklahoman]

State unemployment claims dip below 5,000 as probe into fraudulent claims continues: As the state continues working to clear a backlog of claims flagged as potentially fraudulent, first-time unemployment insurance claims in Oklahoma dipped below 5,000 last week. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 4,840 initial claims for unemployment benefits were filed in Oklahoma for the week ending Saturday. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s four-week average of unemployment claims has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since the jobless rate skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state employment security commission reported Thursday. [AP News]

Epic Virtual fallout, Medicaid privatization, public health lab & more (audio): This Week in Oklahoma Politics discusses the fallout for Epic Virtual Charter School following a reports from the State Auditor and Inspector and Governor Stitt faces pushback from trying to move forward with the privatization of Medicaid. [KOSU]

House study looks at helping low-income families relocate: Two state lawmakers are pushing forward to knock down barriers for low-income Oklahomans who want opportunities for better housing and education. [Southwest Ledger]

‘Closest ambulance’ rule would save lives: Restoration of the “closest ambulance” rule would save lives and eliminate confusion about which ambulance service should be dispatched to the scene of an emergency, particularly in rural areas, a legislative panel was advised recently. [Southwest Ledger]

Federal Government News

McGirt fallout continues, as courts rule two more tribal reservations were never disestablished: Two recent court decisions say the reservations of the Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation were never disestablished. On Wednesday, a Pittsburg County Judge ruled that the Choctaw Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. The day before, a McClain County District Court judge ruled that the Chickasaw Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. [KOSU]

Election News

Thousands of ballots a day pouring into Tulsa County Election Board with influx still to come ahead of general election: Election Day may be less than three weeks away, but thousands of ballots a day are already pouring into the Tulsa County Election Board, officials said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Candidate forum nixed over mask disagreement: The McAlester News-Capital decided to cancel the in-person portion of the candidate forum scheduled for Thursday after a candidate did not want to wear a protective face covering. [McAlester News-Capital]

Four disputes in the second 5th District debate: The second debate between Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn and Republican state Sen. Stephanie Bice produced some verbal sparring, along with disputes about voting records and specific legislation. [The Oklahoman]

Watch: Sen. Jim Inhofe discusses U.S. Senate race: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe meets with The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel. Inhofe is running against longtime Oklahoma City broadcast journalist Abby Broyles. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

SQ805 attacks lengthy prison sentences; opponents say there would be unintended consequences: Multiple groups including Oklahomans for Criminal Justice reform decided to go around the Legislature. They formed the coalition Yes on 805 and got approval to send State Question 805 to the ballot. The ballot measure would get rid of sentence enhancements for people previously convicted of nonviolent felonies. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Advisory Council recommends CARES funds spending to Jail Trust: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) held its monthly meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss recent criminal justice reform efforts and make recommendations to the Jail Trust on CARES Act funds spending. [OKC Free Press]

Economic Opportunity

COVID-19 brings new urgency to the need for rural broadband access: At first glance, the lack of an internet connection might seem like just an inconvenience, but the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined how central reliable internet access has become to everyday life. It has also given new urgency to efforts to address the lack of connectivity, particularly in rural areas. [NonDoc]

Worried about eviction during the COVID-19 storm? There’s help: Multiple community partners are coming together to sponsor the Tulsa Eviction Prevention Clinic on Saturday, Oct 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the 36th Street North Event Center in North Tulsa. [Black Wall Street Times]

Tulsa on track to approve special taxing district to benefit north Tulsa: The City of Tulsa could soon adopt a new special taxing district that benefits residents directly rather than a developer or company. [Public Radio Tulsa]

New Tulsa transit route, aimed at linking Tulsans with job sites, to be fare-free until 2021: Tulsa Transit has announced a new route aimed at serving Tulsans who rely on bus service for their commutes to and from several major area employers. [Public Radio Tulsa]

OETA announces new free 24/7 live stream: The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority has launched a free 24/7 livestream of its primary channel across OETA and PBS digital platforms. [OETA]

Health News

OKC startup lab offers at-home COVID-19 test: Wheeler Labs of Oklahoma City thinks it may have an answer to the growing demand for COVID-19 testing in both rural and urban Oklahoma areas. [The Journal Record] Wheeler Labs, a startup clinical laboratory in Oklahoma’s Innovation District, offers the test kit for $125. That includes the cost of lab fees, an independent physician referral and overnight shipping. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“There’s just no evidence that would suggest adding additional years or decades onto a person convicted for a nonviolent offense does anything in the way of reducing crime.”

-Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, speaking about SQ 805. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s four-week average of unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 10

[Source: Oklahoma Employment Security Commission via AP News]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Jobless Workers Built Up Some Savings. Then the $600 Checks Stopped: The $600 weekly unemployment benefit the federal government funded this year was a remarkably effective expansion of the safety net. It helped pay many workers more than their lost wages. It enabled families to spend more than during normal times. It even allowed households to put away savings as the economy was teetering. Then the money stopped at the end of July. And it’s clear, looking back, what happened next: Workers quickly burned through the reserves that the aid had given them. Of the savings many households were able to build up over the course of four months of unusually generous government help, much of it was gone by the end of August. [New York Times]

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


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.