In The Know: OKC using Obamacare funds to improve public health

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the New York Times examined how Oklahoma City is using Affordable Care Act funds for a variety of public health projects. The Tahlequah Daily Press examines how community health centers will benefit under the new health care law. OK Policy released a new database and factsheets with data on all 77 Oklahoma counties.

American Airlines will lay off 839 Tulsa mechanics. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation added the last of the state’s deficient bridges to its 2013-20 work plan. Tulsa County commissioners approved a resolution outlining how the county would spend its $92 million in Vision2 quality-of-life funding.

Gov. Fallin is at odds with Mitt Romney over the extension of wind-energy tax credits. A livestock dealer claims in a federal lawsuit that cattle prices at the Oklahoma National Stock Yards are being illegally manipulated. The superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools has temporarily lifted the districtwide ban on college and professional sports team clothing, following controversy over a kindergarten student who was asked to turn his University of Michigan T-shirt inside out.

The Number of the Day is the median income for veterans in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkbook discusses a new study showing how wind power could potentially meet all of the world’s energy needs.

In The News

Door to door in the heartland, preaching healthy living

Like a missionary, Michael Bailey, a county health worker, spends his days driving his beat-up Nissan around this city’s poorest neighborhood, spreading the word in barber shops and convenience stores about the benefits of healthy diet and exercise. “Look at the kids,” he said. “Overweight, huffing and wheezing. Their lives will be miserable if this doesn’t change.” Mr. Bailey believes that food is slowly killing his community here, and signing people up for a program to prevent heart disease is his way of saving souls. Local governments across the country are creating dozens of such experiments with money from the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. It is part of a broad national effort set in motion by the law to nudge a health care system geared toward responding to illness to one that tries to stop people from getting sick in the first place.

Read more from the New York Times.

Health centers benefit under new law

A generation or two ago, when people got sick, they sought treatment from a family doctor, or for more serious injuries, the emergency room at the local hospital. Today, a growing number of Americans seek care from community health centers or smaller emergent care facilities. Tahlequah residents have access to both: NEOHealth centers offers care at reduced rates based on income, and UrgentCare takes walk-in patients at charges comparable to those of primary care physicians. For people with insurance through a major carrier like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, treatment at a clinic like Urgent Care is more cost-effective than going to a hospital emergencyroom. An average copayment for an Urgent Care visit runs about $40, compared to a $200 copayment at the Tahlequah City Hospital emergency room. Affordability is a key element for many people. And under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, clinics like NEOHealth and Urgent Care may experience rapid patient base growth, as the law provides for massive expansion to Medicare, Medicaid and preventive services.

Read more from the Tahlequah Daily Press.

NEW: County-level database and factsheets

Are you interested in how your county’s high school graduation rate compares to the rest of the state? How the uninsurance rate has changed over the past decade? How your county ranks among the state’s 77 counties in median personal income? Whether you have more property crime or violent crime in your area? Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to announce the release of two new resources. An online database of state and county-level statistics is now available at Our new interactive data app is available for free, 24-hours a day and serves as a comprehensive hub for publicly available state and local data. We’ve also published county factsheets for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. They provide quick and colorful access to key demographic, economic, and social indicators.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

American Airlines to cut 839 jobs at Tulsa maintenance base

American Airlines will close its Fort Worth maintenance base by the end of the year, lay off 839 Tulsa mechanics and consolidate major aircraft maintenance operations in Tulsa and at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, company executives said Monday. More than 1,700 mechanics & related workers at American’s three aircraft overhaul bases will be laid off in December and February, officials said. Additional reductions of mechanics & related positions at the Tulsa maintenance base could occur as a result of the closing of the Alliance Airport base in Fort Worth and layoffs of 862 mechanics & related workers there whose seniority could lead to “bumping” of less senior mechanics in Tulsa, officials said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

ODOT adds 167 structurally deficient bridges to work plan

Transportation commissioners updated the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s eight-year plan on Monday, officially adding the last of the state’s deficient bridges to ODOT’s 2013-20 work plan. ODOT was able to add 126 bridges to last year’s eight-year plan and added the final 167 bridges Monday. Gov. Mary Fallin and ODOT officials announced a proposal in 2011 to provide funding to fix 293 out of about 700 structurally deficient bridges in the ODOT system. Money to fix the other approximately 400 bridges had already been identified. The increased funding from Fallin’s Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization Plan was approved and signed into law in May.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Tulsa County commissioners approve resolution outlining spending of Vision2 funds

Tulsa County commissioners approved a resolution Monday outlining how the county would spend its $92 million in Vision2 quality-of-life funding. The resolution calls for spending $38 million to construct a new juvenile justice center, $25 million to improve road and infrastructure and $12 million to complete Expo Square enhancements. The county levee system would get $10 million, and the Park Administration $7 million. Commissioners last month passed a resolution calling for a Nov. 6 election on a proposed $748.8 million Vision2 package. Vision2 includes two proposals: One would establish a deal-closing fund and pay for improvements and the purchase of new equipment at the city-owned airport industrial complex; the other would pay for quality-of-life projects selected by the county and cities within the county.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

One thing Mitt Romney and Gov. Fallin disagree on: Wind-energy tax credits

Mitt Romney and Republican governor’s have a lot in common, especially when it comes to their positions on energy policy. The Republican presidential candidate’s energy plan — written with the help of top his top energy adviser Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma billionaire and CEO of oil giant Continental Resources — focuses more on oil and natural gas than renewable energy resources, like wind. But Romney doesn’t want to extend a federal subsidy for the wind industry, which Stateline’s Jim Malewitz writes, puts him at odds with wind-state governors like Mary Fallin, who have been howling for the tax credit’s renewal. In a February letter to Congress, Gov. Fallin said the tax credit, which returns 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of wind energy produced, is key to developing wind-energy technology.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Livestock dealer sues Okla. National Stock Yards

A livestock dealer claims in a federal lawsuit filed Monday that cattle prices at the Oklahoma National Stock Yards are being illegally manipulated. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City by Parker Livestock of Thomas alleges the stockyards and others are violating provisions of the federal Packers and Stockyards Act, a 1921 law designed to prevent conflicts of interest and market manipulation. The suit also claims that the livestock company’s owner, John Parker, was banned from the stockyards’ weekly Monday auctions after he complained about the activities, reducing competition and artificially depressing prices. The lawsuit states that from June 2009 through March 2012, Parker purchased about 10 percent of the cattle sold at the stockyards’ Monday auctions.

Read more from Businessweek.

Oklahoma City superintendent temporarily lifts sports apparel ban

The superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools has temporarily lifted the districtwide ban on college and professional sports team clothing. The ban will be lifted for 60 days, while a yet-to-be-formed committee will look at the issue of gang apparel and team logos. Controversy about the ban was sparked last month when a kindergarten student was asked to turn his University of Michigan T-shirt inside out. Cooper Barton, 5, is a kindergartner at Wilson Elementary. He violated a policy that allowed only Oklahoma college apparel. The policy only applies to the four high schools and 13 elementary schools that do not have a uniform policy. All middle school students wear uniforms.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

We don’t believe in individual freedom to the extent of letting people make poor health decisions and just wither away without help.

OKC Mayor Mick Cornett, who is using Affordable Care Act funds for a variety of public health projects.

Number of the Day


Median income for veterans in Oklahoma, compared to $21,776 for nonveterans in the state, 2006-2010

Source: U.S. Census

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Could wind power ever meet the world’s energy needs?

At the moment, wind power supplies about 4.1 percent of electric power in the United States. Still a bit player. Yet there’s a whole lot of untapped wind left in the world. Wind whipping through the Great Plains. Wind gusting off the shores. Wind circulating high up in the sky. So what would happen if we tried to harvest all of that wind? We’d have enough energy to power the world. At least in theory. A new study published this week in Nature Climate Change finds that there’s enough wind potential both on the Earth’s surface and up in the atmosphere to power human civilization 100 times over. Right now, humans use about 18 terawatts of power worldwide. And, technically, the study found, we could extract about 400 terawatts of wind power from the Earth’s surface and 1,800 terawatts of power from the upper atmosphere.

Read more from Wonkbook.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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