In The Know: Oklahoma politicians, physicians respond to Supreme Court ruling

In 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Oklahoma politicians reacted negatively to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.  OK Policy released a statement that it’s now time to move forward with implementation.  Oklahoma’s medical community was generally supportive of the decision, including M.D. and president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, director of Oklahoma’s Primary Care Association, and M.D. and former dean of the OU School of Community Medicine.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she doesn’t plan to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with state components of the federal health law, like exchanges.  Insurance Commissioner John Doak told a news station that he is ‘highly speculative’ that the federal government has the funds to implement an exchange in Oklahoma and implied that no action will be taken until after the November election.

The state’s highest court upheld an initiative petition to allow the sale of wine in some grocery stores.  Oklahoma is the first state to be chosen as a testing site for a new type of unmanned aerial drone.  Construction work on the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum will be suspended on July 1 due to lack of funding.

One state agency keeps a sign posted warning against the use of obscene language, based on an old law that bans cursing in the presence of a woman or swearing in the name of Jesus Christ.  Advocates and parents continued to lobby state education officials to remove students’ personal information from their website.

In today’s Policy Note, read the opinions issued by the sitting Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Affordable Care Act ruling.  The Number of the Day is the percentage drop in the 4-week average of continued claims for unemployment in Oklahoma since 2010.

In The News

Health Care: Oklahoma politicians express disappointment with Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act

Oklahoma’s governor, attorney general, congressional delegation and the president of the State Chamber were unanimous Thursday in their criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a federal health care law aimed at covering more than 30 million Americans without medical insurance.

Read more from News OK at

STATEMENT: Supreme Court ruling means it’s time to move forward

David Blatt, Director of Oklahoma Policy Institute, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act:  The Supreme Court ruling to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is a significant victory for consumers, providers, and payers alike. It’s also a wake-up call for Oklahoma, where our leaders have gambled on a wait-and-see strategy that’s left us ill prepared for reform. The decision today underscores the state’s obligation under federal law to move forward with implementation.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Local views vary on health care reform

Shawnee residents had mixed responses to the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, 5-4 on Thursday.  Dr. John Robinson, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and an M.D. in Shawnee, said the law had good points and bad points.  “The good thing is that people will have insurance,” Robinson said. “People need coverage.”  Robinson outlined many issues with the law, including the lack of doctors in Oklahoma. With all the newly insured people accompanying the law, Oklahoma could need as many as 600 new doctors, if no doctors retire, he said.

Read more from the Shawnee News Star at

Oklahoma Health Expert Lauds SCOTUS Decision

Greta Stewart directs Oklahoma’s Primary Care Association. It’s their job to help get those 1.4 million Oklahomans health care. And those are the people the President’s historic health care overhaul targets.  “It’s new. It’s uncomfortable. Anything as major as this decision and this program, the Affordable Care Act has got to strike fear in people who haven’t dealt with it. Based on my 19 years of experience [it is] good for the nation,” said Stewart.  Stewart says the new health plan means 400,000 of the 625,000 Oklahomans who currently don’t have health insurance, will have it in four years. They’ll have it, because the new system will make it much easier for everyone to get health screenings and preventative care.

Read more from News9 at

Oklahoma Medical Professionals React To Healthcare Decision

Doctor Gerard Clancy of OU Tulsa said the problem is not just a lack of insurance.  “One of the pieces that the general public doesn’t see is that most people without health coverage try to get by without accessing healthcare at all, and what they do is wait and wait and wait,” said Clancy. “We see that all the time, so here’s the opportunity for people to get care before major trouble strikes and we’ll have to see how it works out.”  Clancy said the healthcare law will improve health by encouraging people to get less expensive routine care.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Oklahoma Gov. Fallin plans no special session on the health-care law ruling

Gov. Mary Fallin said she doesn’t plan to call a special session of the state Legislature to deal with the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal Affordable Care Act.  The law requires every state to create a health insurance exchange – essentially an electronic marketplace for people and businesses to connect with private-market insurance plans that meet federal standards.  The law requires every state to have an exchange plan in place by Dec. 31, but the Oklahoma Legislature has balked at the idea repeatedly.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds wine initiative petition

In a 5-4 decision, the state’s highest court rejected arguments that the proposal violates the state and U.S. constitutions and said “there is a rational basis for the provisions” within the proposal.  Initiative Petition No. 396 is supported by Oklahomans for Modern Laws and, if approved at the ballot box, would bring about one of the biggest changes to state liquor laws since Prohibition was repealed in 1959 and liquor-by-the-drink was allowed in bars and nightclubs on a county-option basis in 1984.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma chosen as test site for drones

Small unmanned aircraft systems will be tested to help first responders deal with natural disasters and other emergencies in the restricted air space over Fort Sill near Lawton.  Oklahoma is the first state to be chosen as a testing site for small unmanned aircraft systems, commonly called drones, to be used to help first responders, state and federal officials announced Thursday.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma Indian museum suspends construction

Construction work on the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City will be suspended on July 1 because officials have run out of money for the project, in which $91 million has already been invested, the project’s executive director said Thursday.  The unfinished site is already surrounded by a security fence and gates that are locked after hours to guard the museum’s entrances.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Old Oklahoma Law, Still On Books, Bans Foul Language

One sign posted at the state housing finance agency’s building reminds the public that uttering such words would be breaking the law, because as it turns out, in Oklahoma curse words are illegal in public places, in the presence of a female, and around children under the age of 10.  “Clearly the law will never stand the first amendment challenge. I just think there is no way it would hold and stand up in court,” said attorney David Slane.  News 9 also found state law that restricts Oklahomans from swearing in the name of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost. And that punishment can result in a $1 fine.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Oklahoma education advocates demand privacy for waiver candidates

At its June 5 meeting, the Board of Education named students who requested waivers from state-mandated end-of-instruction exams. After the meeting, the appeal information was posted on the Oklahoma agency website, including some student transcriptions, medical information and personal information.  The result was an outcry from educators, legislators and advocates. As of Thursday afternoon, the information was still on the department website, though details had been limited to the students’ initials. However, the students’ full names were available on the meeting agenda.  Melissa Abdo, president of the Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee, addressed the board about the issue at its meeting Thursday. She said all student information should be taken off the state website.

Read more from NewsOK at

Quote of the Day

Without health insurance, how can you find out how you’re going to get better, how to have hope you’re going to survive?

Kaye Williams, a Tulsa nurse who’s been unable to work or buy insurance since developing a chronic illness

Number of the Day

32.2 percent

Percentage drop in the 4-week average of continued claims for unemployment in Oklahoma between now and 2010.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note


In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. One key provision is the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain “minimum essential” health insurance coverage.

Read more from the Supreme Court at

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