In The Know: Nearly 500 elderly Oklahomans died prematurely due to Medicaid non-expansion, state hires Medicaid consultant, 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

Report: 476 older Oklahomans died prematurely because of Medicaid non-expansion: Nearly 500 low-income, older Oklahomans died prematurely because the state did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report. The report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 15,600 deaths among low-income people ages 55 to 64 in a four-year period could have been avoided if all states had expanded Medicaid. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy supports straightforward Medicaid expansion and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue. 

State health officials hire Medicaid consultants, sign contract for nearly $1.5 million: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority finalized a contract Thursday to pay no more than $1.49 million over the next year to Health Management Associates Inc. to help Gov. Kevin Stitt finalize and implement a health care plan he has hinted centers on some form of a Medicaid block grant. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy recently examined another state’s Medicaid block grant proposal, noting that it threatens access to health care and rests on shaky legal ground.

Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma’s failure to accept Medicaid money costs everyone, including those who have jobs and insurance: It’s not news to working Oklahomans that the cost of health care is taking a bigger bite of their income. A study by The Commonwealth Fund shows that the average potential cost of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums and deductibles in 2018 was about $7,311 in Oklahoma. That’s about 12.3% of the median state income. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Teacher numbers up as pay raises make hiring, retention easier, education leaders say: Oklahoma’s teacher workforce numbers are rebounding, and state and local education leaders say statewide teacher pay raises passed by the Legislature appear to be helping. [Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis shows that progress has been made recently on restoring funding for essential services like education, but it will be a long rebuilding project to full budget recovery.

State defines line it would draw for allowing four-day school weeks: The state’s bar has been set for schools to operate on a four-day week and the requirements could force many schools back to five days a week. School leaders and community members can weigh in for the next three weeks on new proposed qualifications schools must meet to use an abbreviated academic calendar. [Oklahoma Watch]

A-F report cards to grade every Oklahoma public school: Oklahoma School Report Cards are about to be released with A-F grades for every public school in the state. These grades will be based on the 2018-19 school year. [The Oklahoman]

After selling state plane, Stitt flying commercial, taking helicopter and driving: When Gov. Kevin Stitt headed to Washington, D.C., this week to testify before Congress, he climbed aboard a commercial Southwest Airlines jet. [CNHI

Five Tribes say they’re waiting for an offer from governor on gaming compacts: Whatever Gov. Kevin Stitt is selling, the leaders of Oklahoma’s five largest Indian tribes aren’t buying.“It felt like a used car salesman thing, telling me I need a vehicle, and I’m saying, ‘No, I don’t. I have a good vehicle,’ ” Choctaw Chief Gary Batton said Friday. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation leading the way in fight against diabetes: The Cherokee Nation has its sights on eliminating the significance of diabetes in Northeastern Oklahoma, and have been encouraging folks to get outdoors and get active this month – National Diabetes Awareness Month. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Party heads discuss bill to ban smoking in bars: In the last regular legislative session, a bill to prohibit bar patrons from smoking inside did not make it through the Legislature, but House Speaker Pro Temper Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, is planning to introduce the legislation again during the second session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Improvement seen against juvenile sex trafficking: The nation’s preeminent group fighting the sex trafficking of minors started rating states in 2011 and the nation as a whole received a failing grade. [The Oklahoman]

Local nonprofit group provides Thanksgiving meals to area food insecure college students: Members representing The Thanksgiving Project supplied dinners Saturday at Langston University-Tulsa for food insecure students representing Tulsa Community College; Platt College; Northeastern State University; University of Oklahoma; Oklahoma State University; and Tulsa Technology Center. [Tulsa World]

Certificates of compliance slowing down marijuana business renewals: A new law enacted Sept. 1 states medical marijuana commercial businesses must possess a “certificate of compliance” from the city and/or county where the business is located to receive a license to operate, or to renew an existing license. [The Oklahoman] Virtual visits growing for new medical marijuana patients. [CNHI]

Quality should not depend on ZIP codes says newest Board of Ed member: Meg McElhaney was appointed to serve on the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education Thursday and believes ZIP codes should not determine the quality of education in the district. [Free Press OKC]

Oil, gas companies work to reduce emissions as political debate continues: Many Oklahoma-based oil and natural gas operators are testing the air as the nation’s climate change debate continues. Some such as Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy have evaluated how a future environment, where a constrained carbon use exists, would impact their businesses. [The Oklahoman]

Expert panel to discuss MAPS 4 projects, downtown: The Oklahoman has assembled an expert panel to discuss downtown development as it relates to proposed MAPS 4 projects. [The Oklahoman] MAPS 4 would fund new, permanent home for Palomar, OKC’s Family Justice Center. [The Oklahoman]

An end to gerrymandering: A grassroots group that wants to end partisan gerrymandering in Oklahoma is taking its act on the road this fall. As part of a statewide tour, People Not Politicians visited Ada on Thursday to drum up support for a plan to take the task of redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts out of politicians’ hands. That job would be turned over to an independent commission made up of three Republicans, three Democrats and three Independents. [CNHI]

The new law readers want most? End daylight saving time: When you ask for new law ideas on the same day daylight saving time ends, guess what people suggest? End daylight saving time. Of the more than 300 ideas that came in during its “It ought to be a law” contest, ending daylight saving time was by far the most requested new law proposal. It also received the most votes in our online poll where we posted the top 10 new law ideas. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We still have work to do to ensure we have a sufficient educator workforce to reduce class sizes and bolster student learning, but this sustained uptick in (teacher) numbers is a strong indicator that we have begun to reverse course and attract new talent to a profession with unparalleled impact on young lives.”

-State Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Native American children in Oklahoma who are living in poverty

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Child nutrition programs in Indian Country: Nearly 60 percent of counties where American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) make up the majority population have the highest food-insecurity rates in the nation. Child food insecurity rates get as low as 42% in Indian Country, approximately double the national rate of 20.9 percent in 2014. [Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initative]

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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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