In The Know: Oklahomans spend more with employer-provided insurance, conservative group pushing for Medicaid work rules, 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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Working together for a better Oklahoma: Extreme partisanship is an unfortunate reality in today’s politics. The negative effects are most viscerally experienced at the federal level, but its impact also mars good work at the state and local levels as well. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

In The News

Oklahomans spending more for health care even with employer-provided insurance: Work-based health insurance is taking a bigger bite than ever out of Oklahoma workers’ paychecks, according to a national study released Wednesday. Using data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Commonwealth Fund determined that employee-paid premiums and deductibles grew 27% faster than the state’s median household income between 2008 and 2018. [Tulsa World] OK Policy supports straightforward Medicaid expansion as provided in SQ 802 for improved health care coverage in the state. OK Policy has provided information and resources to better understand the issue.

Conservative group goes state by state for Medicaid work rules: Many states are trying to require some of their residents to work to receive Medicaid benefits. The current administration is heavily pushing for work requirements, but courts have been striking them down. Billions of dollars in aid are at stake, and thousands of people could lose their insurance. [Bloomberg Law]

In 2020, CLEET mental health training to be reviewed by state’s department of mental health: Beginning next year, the Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will review all of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training’s mental health education prior to it being offered to officers. [The Frontier] OK Policy has identified expanded mental health training as a strategy for building trust between law enforcement and communities. 

Q&A: Researchers hope data can help Tulsa police avoid using force: Following a number of high profile incidents of Tulsa police using force, a recent study found that race was not a significant factor in officers’ decisions. Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Cincinnati studied Tulsa to find ways to reduce the number of times police officers use force on civilians. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Stitt appoints attorney Dustin Rowe to Supreme Court: Dustin Rowe will be the newest justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court after his appointment Wednesday by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Rowe, who became mayor of Tishomingo in 1994 at age 18, is Stitt’s second appointment to the court. [NonDoc] Rowe was one of three candidates sent to Stitt by the Judicial Nominating Commission. [The Oklahoman]

Stitt plan for DC office stalled: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to hire a full-time aide in Washington, D.C., has stalled, though Stitt has apparently not abandoned the idea. Stitt envisions hiring one full-time person and renting space in Washington. About 20 states have offices in Washington. [The Oklahoman]

‘It’s terrifying’: Oklahoma victims advocate on commutations: Oklahoma’s mass commutation and subsequent release captured national attention and was lauded by those in criminal justice reform as a sharp turn in the right direction for the traditionally “tough on crime” Sooner State. As some celebrate, a former member of the Pardon and Parole Board urges caution. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy has put forward recommendations on fixing Oklahoma’s parole system and assisting re-entry for those who have been incarcerated. 

Oklahoma’s uninsured motorist diversion program reaches 10,000 participants: The Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion program hit 10,000 participants Friday, a year after it began scanning license plates across Oklahoma. Using a mixture of camera-equipped vehicles, one trailer and several fixed locations, UVED scans license plates and checks them against the state’s daily insurance database for compliance. [Tulsa World] An OK Policy analysis shows that roadside cameras won’t solve Oklahoma’s uninsured driver problem.

New Oklahoma DUI program lets offenders choose interlock device or license revocation: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has implemented a new drunk driving program created by state law. The Impaired Driver Accountability Program allows DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device rather than have their license automatically revoked by DPS. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘The system failed’: State closes unlicensed residential care homes: Law enforcement and state service agencies swarmed one licensed and two “unlicensed” residential care homes Wednesday morning in Okfuskee County. Agents served cease and desist orders, conducted interviews with developmentally disabled residents and relocated about a dozen individuals to other residential care homes or living quarters. [NonDoc]

Some OK with open-carry law but won’t use it themselves: Although Oklahomans are now allowed to openly carry firearms without permits, there are still places where guns are not welcome. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Fourth teacher sues Epic over termination: A fourth teacher has filed a lawsuit against Epic Charter Schools, alleging she was fired after objecting to questionable enrollment practices. Ryan Aispuro said Epic terminated her employment “because she resisted pressure to manipulate Epic’s truancy standards.” [The Oklahoman]

Letter to the editor: Oklahoma has appalling domestic violence record: 49.1 percent of women and 40.7 percent of men in Oklahoma experience intimate partner physical violence, rape and stalking in their lifetime. The national average is 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men. [Nataly Cruz / Tulsa World]

New Tulsa City Council website to feature information regarding Equality Indicators: Desiring to command a more engaged and informed constituency on a variety of initiatives, the city is in the early stages of creating a new website that will do just that for the Tulsa City Council. While the main function of the yet-to-be launched site will be centered on being user-friendly and easier to navigate, a consequential component expects to feature a section dedicated to the Equality Indicators — measuring racial and gender disparities in the city. [Tulsa World]

MAPS 4 puts focus on neighborhoods: MAPS 4 is expected to raise $978 million over eight years for 16 projects, including NBA arena renovations and expansion, a building for the domestic abuse-fighting Palomar Family Justice Center, and housing to help low-income residents avoid homelessness. City officials highlighted common themes among the neighborhood-focused projects. [The Oklahoman]

Putnam City proposing historic $133.45 million bond issue: Voters will decide on the largest bond issue in the history of the Putnam City school district next year, as a $133.45 million package will be on the ballot in February. The vote would cover two bond propositions. The first asks for $126.25 million for school improvements, including safety and security repairs, technology upgrades, textbooks, maintenance and new construction. A second proposition requests $7.2 million for new school buses. [The Oklahoman]

Drummond students lobby legislators on seat belt law: Since 2016, there have been no laws on the books in Oklahoma requiring children eight years and older to buckle up when they’re in the back seat, and two Drummond high school students believe it’s costing lives. [Enid News & Eagle

Oklahoma County judge seeking to remove district attorney from her tax evasion case: An embattled Oklahoma County district judge is now asking to have the Oklahoma County district attorney removed from her criminal case. [KFOR]

State seeking enforcement of wastewater disposal by oil and gas industry: Guidelines for oil and gas wastewater disposal into rivers and streams in Oklahoma may become stricter if the state is granted permission to take over enforcement of federal water quality regulation. [The Journal Record ????]

More than 5 percent of Oklahomans now have medical marijuana cards: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority says more than 200,000 people now have their cards. That’s more than 5 percent of the state’s population. Tax receipts show medical marijuana sales passed $258 million through October. [News9]

Quote of the Day

“Employers have never been effective in forcing down prices. The providers are very consolidated and powerful. The employers are fractured.”

-David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, speaking about a new report showing employer-based health care costs are continuing to rise, including in Oklahoma [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of uninsured Native American children in Oklahoma, the largest uninsured population among children

[Source: Georgetown Center for Children and Families]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Report says tribal health insurance increased but behind U.S. average: The number of people who showed up at at Indian Health Service facilities with health insurance rose from 64 percent of patients in 2013 to 78 percent in 2018, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. [Indian Country Today]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month. We recognize and celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country.

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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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