In The Know: Oklahoma hospitals prepare for changes under Affordable Care Act

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 Oklahoma hospitals are preparing for changes under the Affordable Care Act, which will cut Medicaid payments with no reimbursement for emergency room care if the state does not choose to join the Medicaid expansion. The OK Policy Blog earlier discussed why it’s important for Oklahoma to avoid the Medicaid ‘coverage crater’ that would be created if we opt out of the expansion. More than 693,000 Oklahomans do not have health insurance, according to figures released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. Oklahoma Policy Institute is seeking to hire a health care policy analyst. The deadline for applications is October 15.

Lawmakers are examining concerns raised by school leaders about data errors and a lack of transparency in the new A-F school grading system. The Tulsa World profiled an Owasso nonprofit that is giving assistance for teen moms to pursue a college education. NewsOK writes that the justice reinvestment bill needs more buy-in from state agencies to succeed. Governor Fallin remains committed to an extension of the wind energy tax credit, highlighting a split with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Despite selling off billions in assets, Chesapeake Energy is still leading a “land grab” near its corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City. A hearing has been scheduled before an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee on Sen. Patrick Anderson’s objection to using $25 million in state bonds to pay for improvements to Tulsa’s Zink Lake Dam. The Los Angeles Times examines how Indian tribes have dramatically increased their political donations this year, mostly to support President Obama.

The Number of the Day is how many packs of cigarettes are consumed annually per capita in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, the latest State of Working America report shows low- and middle-income workers and their families would have had far better income growth over the past 30 years if economic policies had not directed the fruits of economic growth to the highest-income Americans.

In The News

Oklahoma hospitals prepare for changes under Affordable Care Act

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act stands to create job growth in the health care industry, many hospitals may take a hit to the bottom line when it comes to payments from Medicare and Medicaid. Tahlequah City Hospital President and CEO Brian Woodliff said the hospital has always supported better access to health care, and that the law may ease the pressure on the local hospital’s overburdened emergency room. “TCH has always been a proponent of better access to health care for all,” said Woodliff. “That means affordable local access to primary and specialty care. We are very aware of the lack of insured and the underinsured in Northeast Oklahoma.” According to Woodliff, TCH is treating twice the patient volume in its emergency room compared to a decade ago.

Read more from the Tahlequah Daily Press.

Previously: Avoiding the Medicaid ‘coverage crater’ from the OK Policy Blog

More than 690,000 people without health insurance in Oklahoma

More than 693,000 Oklahomans – 18.7 percent of the state population – do not have health insurance, according to figures released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Tulsa, the portion of the population without health coverage is even higher – 22.8 percent – according to the American Community Survey. The figures represent estimates for 2011, before most of the significant changes of the federal Affordable Care Act went into effect, meaning they represent more of a diagnosis of the state’s situation than an update on change. It probably won’t surprise anyone that the distribution of health coverage across demographic groups is uneven in the state. Whites, native-born citizens, the well-educated and the wealthy had considerably higher insurance rates than other Oklahomans, but the degree of the discrepancies may raise some eyebrows.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma Policy Institute seeking to hire health care policy analyst

Oklahoma Policy Institute is seeking to hire a high quality health care policy analyst. The primary responsibilities of the job are to conduct research and analysis on state health care policy issues, and to prepare, write and disseminate issue briefs, fact sheets, opinion articles, blog posts, e-mail alerts and other materials. Qualified candidates will have a graduate or professional degree in a relevant field, 3-5 years work or academic experience on health care policy issues, outstanding writing, research and oral communications skills, and strong familiarity with the Oklahoma policy environment. The deadline for applications is Monday, October 15, 2012.

Read more from the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Lawmakers, educators question state’s A-F school grading system

Three Tulsa-area state lawmakers are trying to get the questions and concerns of school leaders across the state about a new A-F school grading system addressed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. State Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said he and Reps. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, and Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, submitted a list of nearly 20 questions on behalf of superintendents whose districts account for 160,000 public school students. They have been told they should receive a response Tuesday. For weeks, school administrators have been publicly criticizing the preliminary grade calculations they received from state education officials as rife with errors and lacking in supporting data and explanations. The deadline for districts to seek corrections to their letter grades is Friday, with final grades due Oct. 8.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Nonprofit gives assistance to teen moms who want a college education

Alisa Bell doesn’t mince words when talking about her life’s hardships – including becoming pregnant at 14 and working through grief after the fatal shooting of her teenage son. But her tales end with lessons in tenacity, perseverance, the need for a support network and no excuses. She halted her family’s generational cycle of teen moms by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in organizational development and by focusing on parenting. While working full time and being a mother and wife, Bell found the time to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teen mothers get a college education.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Buy-in necessary for Oklahoma justice reform bill to succeed

Kris Steele may be a lame duck, but he’s trying to make the most of his final few months as speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Steele, R-Shawnee, is headed out the door later this year as a result of term limits. In the meantime he’s doing what he can to see that a piece of important legislation he shepherded to passage during the 2012 session actually does what it was intended.Carrying out the law will require collaboration and communication among numerous groups — judges, prosecutors, mental health agencies, law enforcement and others. To aid in that effort, Steele recently convened a meeting of a working group tasked with monitoring implementation of the law. Unfortunately, some of the agencies didn’t attend, so the meeting wasn’t as fruitful as perhaps it could have been.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin continues support for wind energy tax credit

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin remains committed to an extension of the federal production tax credit for wind energy, joining several other Republican governors and lawmakers in the central United States and highlighting a split with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Fallin, speaking at the annual meeting of the Southern States Energy Board in Oklahoma City, said she still supports a temporary extension of the production tax credit. The incentive, which expires Dec. 31, offers wind producers a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit. Fallin sent a letter to congressional leaders in February supporting a renewal of the wind production tax credit. This summer, Romney’s campaign said the former Fallin said the wind industry supports more than 3,000 jobs in Oklahoma. The state ranks in the top 10 nationally for wind capacity and electricity generation from wind. Republican governors in other wind-producing states such as Iowa and Kansas also support an extension of the credit.

Read more from NewsOK.

Chesapeake Energy’s ‘land grab’ endures in Oklahoma City

Chesapeake Energy has been selling off assets at a frenzied pace. Billions in pipeline interests and natural gas fields have been shed this year, and Chesapeake has been trying to unload an office tower in Fort Worth, Texas, for $110 million. But the company is still leading a “land grab” near its corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, the Journal Record reports. Chesapeake’s “ever-expanding” campus is growing through purchases by shell companies and affiliated businesses, like Property Development LLC, Brianna Bailey reports: Property Development has spent about $8 million since September 2011 to buy a little more than 35 acres of land in northwest Oklahoma City, property records show. And some of the million-dollar purchases are for derelict, dilapidated properties, the paper reports. What does Chesapeake want with the land? The former property owners don’t know, and neither the company nor its business partners are talking.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Enid’s Anderson takes fight against bonds to Oklahoma Supreme Court

A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday before an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee on a controversial plan to use $25 million in state bonds to pay for improvements to Tulsa’s Zink Lake Dam. Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, has filed a formal objection in the state Supreme Court in an effort stop the issuance of the $25 million in state debt. The funds are being sought to raise the level of Zink Dam, which is owned by the city of Tulsa, to develop a park area along the Arkansas River in Tulsa. Anderson has long objected to the use of state bonds for the project.

Read more from the Enid News & Eagle.

Indian tribes find an ally in Obama

At a July fundraiser in the elegant Mandarin Oriental hotel near Washington’s Tidal Basin, President Obama met with some of his most steadfast supporters — two dozen political and business leaders eager to write sizable checks to help keep him in the White House. All were leaders of Native American tribes, who pressed their issues with a president they say is attuned to their needs. Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, told Obama his Oklahoma tribe was owed $50 million for its costs of administering federal health services. “He said, ‘Let me look into this and see what we can do,'” Baker recalled. A week later, he received a letter from the White House pledging to follow up. A White House spokesman said the administration had been reaching out to many tribes on the same issue.

Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

Quote of the Day

It’s true children of teen moms often become teen moms, too. But it works the other way, too. Children of college graduates often become college graduates.

Alisa Bell, an Owasso woman who founded a non-profit to provide teen parents college scholarships and support to stay in school.

Number of the Day


The number of packs of cigarettes consumed annually per capita in Oklahoma, compared to 79 packs nationally

Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The State of Working America

Low- and middle-income workers and their families would have had far better income growth over the past 30 years if economic policies had not directed the fruits of economic growth to the highest-income Americans, a new Economic Policy Institute book, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition” finds. For example, had there been no growth in income disparities since 1979, annual income for a middle-income household would have been $88,875 in 2007, $18,897 higher than the $69,978 it actually was. The median household lost wealth between 1983 and 2010 and had just $57,000 in net worth in 2010, rather than the $119,000 it would have had if wealth had grown equally across all households over this period. Like the 11 previous editions of “The State of Working America” that EPI has released since 1988, the new edition provides a comprehensive, data-based answer to the question, “How well has the economy worked for American families?”

Read more from the Economic Policy Institute.

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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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