In The Know: OHCA moves forward with managed care proposal | State budget needs | Why 62,000 doses of COVID vaccine sit frozen in state

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

Statement: OHCA’s approval of privatizing Oklahoma’s health care is bad health care policy and lacks sufficient public comment processes: OK Policy has previously raised concerns about the OHCA’s processes forcing Oklahomans to choose between their health and participating in the public’s business, as well as OHCA’s continued pattern of shutting down public discussion on the issue. OK Policy analysis has shown that managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Despite opposition, Health Care Authority moves forward with $2B plan to privatize Medicaid: A split Oklahoma Health Care Authority board on Tuesday signed off on plans for the agency to spend up to $2.2 billion to privatize the state’s Medicaid program. After a lengthy debate where efforts to table the controversial agenda items failed, the board did not approve specific contracts with for-profit companies to manage the program’s spending, but gave the agency approval to move forward with overhauling Medicaid. [The Oklahoman] Gov. Kevin Stitt’s pursuit of implementing managed Medicaid contracts has been opposed by many state legislators and health professional associations. As a result, some OHCA board members attempted unsuccessfully to table and reject the funding authorization votes during Tuesday’s meeting. [NonDoc] Stitt appointees make up a majority of the Health Care Authority board, and efforts to table the agenda items failed. All secured approval by a vote of 5-4. [Tulsa World] OK Policy: Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma, but could be especially harmful for patients, providers, and Indigenous communities.

  • Lawmakers indicate they’re prepared to push back on plan to outsource Medicaid management [Public Radio Tulsa]

Budget Summit: State needs more revenue but needs to find it equitably: Oklahoma needs more revenue if the state is going to thrive. That was the theme of Oklahoma Policy Institute Budget and Tax Senior Analyst Paul Shinn’s presentation at the think tank’s annual budget summit on Tuesday. Shinn said Oklahoma’s already lower-than-average tax revenues have plummeted over the past 20 years, taking some of the shine off a projected $8.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2022, half a billion more than this year’s budget. [Public Radio Tulsa] Video of OK Policy’s State Budget Summit, panel discussion, and keynote speech are available for viewing. 

  • 2021 Legislative Preview: Oklahoma Senate leader answers StateImpact’s questions [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • Budget, Broadband & Medicaid; Oklahoma House Leaders gear up for session [News9]

Arms race: Why 62,000 doses of COVID vaccine sit frozen in Oklahoma: As Oklahomans wait for the state’s limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, more than 62,000 doses allocated for long-term care residents and staff remain in freezers. The state Department of Health provided 97,500 doses to CVS and Walgreens, who were contracted by the federal government to vaccinate vulnerable residents and workers at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, veteran centers and other long-term care facilities. Barely one-third of those doses have been administered, according to federal data. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • Citing slow vaccine rollout, Oklahoma pauses distribution to CVS, Walgreens [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma health officials hesitant in moving into next vaccination priority groups [KOSU]
  • Tulsa Health Department says its weekly COVID-19 vaccine allotments are administered within seven days [Tulsa World]
  • One-day record of 65 COVID-19 deaths reported in Oklahoma [AP News]
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases down in Oklahoma, but deaths are up [The Frontier]
  • Disparity widening between COVID mortality rates in urban and rural Oklahoma [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Dozens line up at Oklahoma City church for COVID vaccine as part of an outreach to minorities [AP News]
  • Oklahoma trying to return its $2m stockpile of hydroxychloroquine [The Frontier] | [AP News] | [New York Times]
  • COVID-19 vaccine pod held at a northeast OKC church was aimed at equitable distribution [The Oklahoman] | [AP News]
  • OKC-County Health Department hoping to help city’s Spanish-speaking community get COVID vaccine [The Oklahoman]
  • Amid COVID vaccine skepticism, here’s how Black doctors in OKC are working to gain trust with their Black patients [The Oklahoman]

How the CARES Act forgot Oklahoma’s most vulnerable hospitals: A federal economic relief package passed by Congress in March promised to provide a lifeline for hospitals, particularly those in rural communities where many facilities struggled to survive even before the coronavirus pandemic. But over the past 10 months, the distribution of more than $100 billion in CARES Act funding for health care providers has been plagued by a dizzying rollout and, at times, contradictory guidelines for how to use the funding. [The Frontier / ProPublica]

Oklahoma trying to return its $2m stockpile of hydroxychloroquine: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office has been tasked with attempting to return a $2 million stockpile of a malaria drug once touted by former President Donald Trump as a way to treat the coronavirus. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma attorney general sues PPE company, seeks $1.8M: A Tulsa-based company accepted a $2.1 million deposit from the State Department of Health to purchase masks but then failed to deliver or refund the money to the state, Attorney General Mike Hunter alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. [AP News]

  • Oklahoma paid this Tulsa bar owner $2.1 million to deliver N95 masks from China. They got less than 10,000. [The Oklahoman] | [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects Stitt’s gambling compacts: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected gambling compacts that Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt negotiated with two Oklahoma-based Native American tribes, delivering the first-term governor another setback in his attempt to renegotiate the deals that allow gambling at tribal casinos. [AP News] The court’s decision invalidated compacts Stitt made with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees and the Kialegee Tribal Town. The high court in July invalidated compacts with the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria Tribes. [The Oklahoman]

McGirt decision impact on state oil and gas industry examined during OEPA briefing with state legislators: The McGirt decision’s impact on the oil and gas industry was a major topic Wednesday at a briefing held for state legislators by the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance. OEPA President Dewey Bartlett Jr. presided over the roughly 100-minute online event, during which Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter spoke at length about the state’s economic future. [Tulsa World]

After setting record, should Oklahoma end straight-ticket voting?: More Oklahomans than ever before skipped over selecting individual candidates and instead voted for their party’s entire slate of candidates with a single pen stroke in 2020. Oklahoma State Election Board data shows that more than 710,200 — or 45.5% of all voters — chose the straight-party voting option during last year’s general election. [Oklahoma Watch]

Here’s how progressive policies are actually winning big in red states — from Oklahoma to Nebraska: Last year, while many ballot initiatives had to be pushed off due to the virus’s impact on signature collection, there was still an impressive number of wins, including Medicaid expansion (Oklahoma and Missouri) and recreational and/or medical marijuana legalization (Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and Mississippi). [AlterNet]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma Senators James Lankford, Jim Inhofe oppose Trump impeachment trial: Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford on Tuesday slammed the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump as “political theater.” Lankford and Sen. Jim Inhofe were among the 45 Republicans who backed a procedural move by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional. That motion failed. [The Oklahoman]

  • Osage County Republicans call for Inhofe, Lankford to resign over failing to support election challenge [Tulsa World]

Rep. Stephanie Bice lands seat on Armed Services Committee: Freshman Rep. Stephanie Bice scored a seat on the House Armed Services Committee, ensuring continuity for Oklahoma on the panel that oversees military policy. [The Oklahoman]

Native Americans get voice in how to handle cases of missing, murdered: According to U.S. Census data, 9.4% of Oklahoma’s 4 million residents identify as American Indian or Alaska Native. In July 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center reported that there were more than 1,400 unresolved Native American and Alaska Native missing person cases in the country. [Reuters]

Criminal Justice News

‘What our citizens expect’: Edmond to expand police body camera program: The Edmond City Council approved spending more than $65,000 tonight to “complete the deployment” of body cameras for all Edmond Police Department patrol officers. [NonDoc]

Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma County gets second chance to spend $5 million from CARES Act: Oklahoma County officials almost lapsed roughly $5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding last year until an extension to spend the money was approved by Congress in late December. Now, officials have until the end of 2021 to spend those dollars, known as CARES Act funds. [The Oklahoman]

Fewer shelter beds available, as homeless count expected to rise: Experts say the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time, especially those without some sort of shelter, has likely increased because of the coronavirus pandemic. And, they warn, an increase is expected to be reflected in Tulsa’s annual survey of the homeless set to begin this week. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma City asks Supreme Court to review 2015 panhandling ordinance: A controversial Oklahoma City panhandling ordinance thrown out by a Denver court would have “withstood constitutional scrutiny” in other parts of the country, attorneys for the city said Wednesday in a plea to the U.S. Supreme Court. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Just like Trump? Biden using executive orders to reposition nation’s energy production, could face similar court challenges: President Joe Biden took a page from President Donald Trump’s playbook Wednesday by signing an executive order suspending future leasing activities of on- and off-shore minerals owned by the federal government, for now. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Mike Cantrell leaves Epic board, charter termination hearing depositions to begin: The Epic Charter Schools board accepted the resignation of 11-year member Mike Cantrell and appointed new member J.P. Franklin at Monday night’s meeting. Cantrell, who has served on the board for both Epic One-on-One and Epic Blended since the virtual charter schools’ inception, said he resigned owing to health problems, and he praised the charter school for its innovation despite an ongoing criminal investigation. [NonDoc]

  • $11.2 million repayment from Epic Charter Schools to state is delayed; public records lawsuit stalls [Tulsa World]
  • New Epic school board member shared COVID misinformation [The Oklahoman]
  • An impromptu interview with Epic Charter Schools co-founder Ben Harris [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Two current board members, former member run for OKCPS chairperson [NonDoc] | [The Oklahoman]
  • Cheat sheet: A crowded field battles for OKC Ward 1 [NonDoc]
  • Cheat sheet: McAtee retirement opens door for wide open OKC Ward 3 race [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma City Community College removes Land Run monument [AP News] | [The Oklahoman]
  • Long-term development takes center stage in Edmond mayoral race [NonDoc]
  • Jenks City Council meeting canceled over safety concerns, meaning mask ordinance could expire this weekend [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Three sites at Union Public Schools move to distance learning; 27 staff members in district are COVID-positive [Tulsa World]
  • Muskogee man charged in connection with U.S. Capitol insurrection is released on bond [Tulsa World] | [AP News]
  • U.S. Sen. James Lankford to remain on Race Massacre Centennial Commission [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Privatizing our state’s Medicaid system will lead to reduced access for our most vulnerable Oklahomans and will only cost the state and taxpayers more.”

-Oklahoma Hospital Association statement about OHCA’s managed care proposal [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


COVID-19 mortality rate per 100,000 for Oklahoma’s rural residents, compared with 78.8 deaths per 100,000 residents in urban areas and 84.8 per 100,000 residents for the state as a whole. [Source: OSU Center for Health Sciences Project ECHO via Public Radio Tulsa]

Policy Note

With Medicaid Expansion, More Than “a Bus Pass and a Good Luck” for Formerly Incarcerated People: People who are incarcerated have complex health needs. To make matters more complicated, prisons and jails have seen some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S.But what happens when they leave prison or jail and need to receive health care on the outside? Many states that have expanded Medicaid are also trying to ensure that people leaving jail or prison are able to enroll in health coverage upon release. On the latest episode of The Dose podcast, learn how these and other health care and criminal justice reform efforts work together. (Contains transcript) [Commonwealth Fund]

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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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