In The Know: Republican former House speaker endorses Medicaid expansion for Oklahoma; Strategies emerging to combat health access crisis

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

Hepatitis C in Oklahoma prisons is an expensive time bomb: There are now more than 3,000 people in Oklahoma prisons who’ve tested positive for the antibodies for hepatitis C, a potentially debilitating liver disease. For nearly a decade lawmakers have only appropriated enough dollars to treat the symptoms of the disease. Policymakers have yet to fully invest in the costly but life-saving cure. [OK Policy]

In The News

Republican former House speaker endorses Medicaid expansion for Oklahoma: Kris Steele, a Republican who was speaker of the Oklahoma House during a period of intense GOP resistance to the Affordable Care Act, came out Monday night for a key feature of that health care law. [The Oklahoman] There are no good reasons not to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma.

Strategies emerging to combat health access crisis: Oklahomans soon may be considering dueling health care proposals as lawmakers and supporters of Medicaid expansion say they’re both closing in on their own strategies to address the state’s growing health access crisis. [CNHI] Visit our resource page for more information about SQ 802.

Attorneys for opioid maker want judge to correct alleged $107 million mathematical error in judgment rendered against them: Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson say a judge made a huge computational error of more than $107 million in calculating the $572 million judgment he rendered against them at the conclusion of a recent Cleveland County nonjury trial. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s opioid trial is over, but legal battles against drug companies persist: More than 60 Oklahoma cities, counties and tribes are in the midst of litigation with drug companies such as Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson in federal court. [The Frontier]

Oklahomans may not be able to fly in 9 days due to Real ID non-compliance: State leaders have kicked the can so far down the road to comply with the federal Real ID Act that a fifth extension is needed from the federal government to allow Oklahomans to continue to use their current driver licenses in airports, military bases and many federal buildings. [KFOR]

Slow gas receipts; slow economic growth: Because of a 20% fall in crude oil prices, the report of August’s total gross receipt growth rate is the lowest in over two years. A dip in income tax collections and slow of oil and gas production tax receipts have resulted in just a 3.2 percent rise in receipts from this time last year. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Survey suggests little or no Midwest economic growth in view: A September survey of business supply manager suggests a slump in economic growth still grips nine Midwest and Plains states, according to a report issued Tuesday. [AP News]

Some state lawmakers support letting college athletes get paid for endorsements: Some Oklahoma lawmakers support a recent move by California to let college athletes profit from endorsements. Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City, said he is considering legislation to allow it in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Some Oklahoma death-row inmates to get better accommodations: Some death-row inmates will be moved to better living conditions soon, the head of the Department of Corrections has told the ACLU of Oklahoma. The change was reported Saturday by The Appeal, which publishes original journalism and commentary about criminal justice. [Tulsa World] You can read the story in The Appeal here.

Judge rules against state’s attempt to keep Karl Fontenot behind bars: Fewer than 80 days remain before Fontenot, one of the defendants in the ‘Innocent Man’ case, must be released from prison or granted a new trial. [The Frontier]

Fired Tulsa police officer hired as detention officer in Rogers County: A Tulsa police officer who was fired last month has been hired as a detention officer with the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office. Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said Wayne Brown’s first day at the Rogers County jail was Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

‘We felt like we deserve better’: TPS support workers’ union president says rejecting raise offer was collective decision: The bargaining unit president for Tulsa Public Schools support employees rejected the notion that union leaders are responsible for declining the district’s proposed pay increase. [Tulsa World]

OSBI affidavit: Tripp Hall being investigated for rape: Former University of Oklahoma Vice President Tripp Hall is being investigated for rape, according to an affidavit for a search warrant served on a Google email account in September. [NonDoc] A new witness has come forward against former University of Oklahoma Vice President Tripp Hall, telling a state agent a massage in January led to an unwanted sexual encounter. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City University hires interim diversity official: Oklahoma City University has hired a diversity administrator as the campus addresses recent racial controversies. Jessica Martinez-Brooks will join the university administration Oct. 8 as an interim diversity and inclusion advocate. [The Oklahoman]

Upcoming Forum: The health risks in school sports: The risks of serious injuries in school sports and the perspectives of families and schools in preventing them will be the topic of an Oklahoma Watch public forum this month in Oklahoma City. [Oklahoma Watch]

Vape products heavily argued among public: Vape companies and electronic cigarette manufacturers are receiving some pushback from lawmakers and the public, after a recent string of deaths and hundreds of lung illnesses have recently occurred, which health professionals are linking to e-cigarettes use. [CNHI]

Rep Kendra Horn explores mental health solutions at southside town hall: Monday night Oklahoma 5th District Representative Kendra Horn held a town hall on mental health but ended up answering a lot of questions about the possible impeachment of President Trump. [Free Press OKC]

Tribal AG asks for Muscogee (Creek) Nation chief election to be thrown out: Calling the results “fatally flawed” because of the inclusion of a disqualified candidate, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Attorney General’s Office is asking for a partial do-over for the tribe’s primary election. [Tulsa World]

Air Force officials frustrated that Tinker housing problems persist: Air Force officials are frustrated that family housing problems persist at Tinker Air Force Base and said Tuesday they have given a private contractor 90 days to come up with a remediation plan. [The Oklahoman]

Devon Energy reduces staff by 40 as transformation continues: Devon Energy Corp. trimmed more staff this week as company leaders continue to reconfigure operations to cut costs while focusing on producing more oil. [The Oklahoman]

Unclaimed treasures: Returns of lost and forgotten property on the rise: Oklahoma law requires insurance companies, utility companies and other businesses that might come into possession of abandoned or otherwise unclaimed assets to turn them over on an annual basis to the Treasurer’s Office. [Journal Record ????]

Quote of the Day

“When people are healthier, they tend to commit less crime. When people are healthier, it tends to improve the quality of life. The reality is this: Collectively we are a rural state. Health care in rural Oklahoma is in crisis. If there’s a way to bring some of our tax dollars back home to benefit the people who live in our state, I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that.”

– Kris Steele, a Republican former Speaker of the House and current Executive Director of The Education and Employment Ministry, explaining his reasons for supporting Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Number of people who have received diagnostic services and treatment for breast and cervical cancer through the Oklahoma Cares program since 2005

[Source: Oklahoma Health Care Authority]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Small towns in much of the country are dangerously dependent on punitive fines and fees: Throughout the country, smaller cities and towns generate major dollars from different types of fines, sometimes accounting for more than half of their revenues. Some places are known for being speed traps. Others prop up their budgets using traffic cameras, parking citations or code enforcement violations. [Governing]

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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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