In The Know: Managed care push brings campaign cash, lobbying | Jail mortality rate 2nd nationally | Teacher vaccination by end of month?

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.

Oklahoma News

Managed care push brings a flow of campaign cash and lobbying that is likely to continue: Health care companies competing for one of the contracts to handle Oklahoma’s Medicaid program spent tens of thousands of dollars on lobbyists and campaign donations last year, while many of the health associations fighting against the effort increased their own campaign contributions to state lawmakers. [The Frontier]

  • Integris executive who saw Iowa Medicaid privatization tells lawmakers it’s ‘difficult’ change [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • State Medical Association to ask court for injunction to stop Medicaid managed care contracts [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma’s jail mortality rate ranks second in nation: Deaths in Oklahoma’s largest county jails have trended upward over the past decade, an indication that some inmates aren’t receiving adequate medical and mental health care. According to a Reuters News investigation published last October, 148 inmates housed in Oklahoma’s 11 largest county jails died from 2009 through 2019. The jails combined had an average annual mortality rate of 2.16 deaths per 1,000 inmates, the second highest in the nation behind West Virginia. [Oklahoma Watch]

Officials hopeful COVID vaccination of Oklahoma teachers will start by end of February: It appears Oklahoma teachers, who were bumped up a priority group in December, may start receiving COVID vaccinations by the end of the month. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • COVID-19: 4 more deaths reported in Oklahoma with 1,040 new cases [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma COVID deaths drop dramatically after deadly weekend [AP News] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • COVID-19 shows decline in Tulsa through ZIP code alert map over past 3 weeks [Tulsa World]
  • Winter Weather Halts Some Vaccination PODs [News9] | [FOX23]

Bill reauthorizing virtual meetings zooms through Oklahoma House: Public meetings may soon be back online as a result of legislation approved Monday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. [Tulsa World] The House approved Senate Bill 1031 on 88–5 vote, and the Senate sent it to Gov. Kevin Stitt. It will take effect immediately if signed. [Public Radio Tulsa] Gov. Kevin Stitt is widely expected to sign Senate Bill 1031 into law in the coming days. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript] OK Policy Guest Post: Virtual public meetings protect health, allow democratic representation during pandemic.

Health News

Oklahomans donate in record numbers to meet convalescent plasma demand: The Oklahoma Blood Institute reached a momentous milestone today. The OBI distributed its 20,000th convalescent plasma unit this week, two and a half months after reaching the 10,000th unit. [FOX25]

State Government News

Maxine Horner, former Tulsa state legislator, advocate for Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, dies at 88: Maxine Horner, a longtime state lawmaker from Tulsa who broke barriers in the 1980s as one of the first Black women elected to the Oklahoma Senate and went on to champion the cause of Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, died Sunday. She was 88. [Tulsa World] Horner represented State Senate District 11 in Tulsa from 1987 until 2005, championing education causes and issues of equity. [NonDoc] Photos: Remembering Maxine Horner, 1933-2021 [Tulsa World]

Drama last week, an election this week: Welcome to Week 2 of the Oklahoma Legislature. The first four days of session made Week 1 seem surprisingly busy. The full Senate suspended rules to fast track an extension of digital public meetings, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously voted down a bill to classify most abortion as murder, and the House Appropriations and Budget Committee unanimously advanced some big bills about state finances. [NonDoc]

  • OKC House Dem calls for leadership removal, apology from Tulsa Republican [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma lawmakers want to plug electric vehicles into road revenue stream: The way policymakers look at it, electric vehicles are getting a free ride on the state’s highways because they don’t pay fuel taxes. And with sales of those vehicles growing, that’s becoming a problem. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers report large campaign reserves after 2020 races: Many state lawmakers will find themselves in a favorable position when they start planning re-election campaigns. Recently released campaign finance reports show that nearly half of the 148 members serving in Oklahoma’s Legislature will be entering the next election with at least $20,000 in reserves. Some lawmakers have campaign war chests significantly larger. [Oklahoma Watch]

Editorial: Voter supression has partisan motives and racist impact — in Oklahoma and around the nation: Legislators in 28 states — including Oklahoma — have introduced proposals (some 106 and rising, according to the Brennan Center for Justice) to restrict voter access. Let’s be clear about what this is — a bald-faced effort to prevent citizens from voting with partisan motives and a clearly racist impact. Unhappy with the results of the 2020 election, Republicans want to change the rules to exclude or dilute voters they don’t like, especially Democrats, minorities and people living in poverty. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Stitt signs order criticizing Biden energy policies: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order on Monday intended to protect Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry from what the governor described as a Washington power grab. Executive Order 2021-03 highlights Oklahoma’s role as a global leader in energy production as well as the state’s successful “all of the above” strategy that has reduced carbon dioxide emissions to levels below the national average while producing the most affordable energy in the United States, Stitt’s office said in a news release. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Police reformers push for de-escalating training only 25% of OKCPD currently have: In the wake of Bennie Edwards’s death, calls from the community demanding more Oklahoma City police officers receive crisis intervention training has erupted. Among those calling for change, award-winning journalist Joe Hight, who authored “Unnecessary Sorrow” a book he wrote after his oldest brother Paul was shot and killed by Oklahoma City police. [FOX25]

Family of victim in infamous Oklahoma murder lashes out at Netflix: The family of a murdered Ada woman is blaming Netflix now that both murder convictions in the infamous 1984 case have been thrown out. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Technology poses vaccine barrier for seniors in affordable housing: As the rollout for the covid-19 vaccine continues, some senior advocates have expressed concerns that elderly residents living in affordable housing have had trouble accessing this vital resource. Mary Brinkley, executive director for LeadingAge Oklahoma, said lack of internet access has been a serious barrier for seniors in the state, where vaccination clinics held in non-medical settings like churches have been successful. [Big If True]

Winter storm will test capacities at Oklahoma City homeless shelters: In a few hours, more than a hundred people filed into the Willard Winter Shelter on Northwest 3rd Street in Oklahoma City as the state braces for a bitterly cold week. [News9]

Economy & Business News

Manufacturing industry growth continues in Oklahoma’s nine-state region: Manufacturing is off to a strong start in 2021 in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the Mid-America Business Conditions Index continues to outpace U.S. growth. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma among leading states for increasing renewable energy production: Oklahoma ranked third among all states in increasing renewable energy production from 2010-2019, according to a new report. Online retailer FilterBuy used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to calculate the percentage change in renewable electricity production in all states over the last decade. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma lagging on women in STEM fields: In Oklahoma, only 25% of people working in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are women, compared with nearly 29% nationwide, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. [The Journal Record]

Education News

OU Board of Regents Chairman Gary Pierson talks executive session, legislative session: University of Oklahoma Board of Regents Chairman Gary Pierson runs a hell of a meeting. He communicates to media, he makes opening statements that potentially head off big questions, he moves business along and he has been known to speak bluntly to university administrators about what he wants. [NonDoc]

Op-Ed: School board recall a bad idea: In seven years of serving on a school board, I have yet to meet a board member who chooses to serve for the gratitude, but I will admit it is nice to read sweet notes from students and receive the occasional “Thank you” email or text throughout the month. This year it seemed the January pleasantries were over on Feb. 1, when legislation was announced which would make it possible to recall school board members. Supporters of the legislation say school board members must be held accountable, and I could not agree more. However, as with other elected positions in the state, we have elections for that very purpose. [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Review campaign finance reports for Feb. 9 OKC, Edmond and Norman elections [NonDoc]
  • Voters to decide area school board races, county treasurer [Tulsa World]
  • Lawton City Council to discuss race relations commission, new sign designation [Lawton Constitution]

Quote of the Day

“The profit motive and then the substantial lack of transparency that comes with (managed care) means that companies often prioritize saving money. Managed care companies will say what is good for their business is good for the patients but I’m not sure we can draw that line that clearly.”

-Carly Putnam, Policy Director for OK Policy [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Estimated new statewide job creation as a result of Medicaid expansion

[Source: National Center for Rural Health Works]

Policy Note

On Health Care, Biden Administration Must Reverse Trump’s Sabotage: President-elect Biden and Congress have important opportunities to expand and improve health coverage, particularly for underserved communities. But to achieve its goals of expanding health coverage and improving health equity, the Biden Administration will need to reverse recent actions that have undermined coverage and limited access to care. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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