In The Know: Thousands could lose Medicaid; a message for Gov. Stitt; Fallin leaves unfulfilled record requests…

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

Oklahoma’s Medicaid Waiver Proposal Will Harm Its Most Vulnerable Families: Unfortunately, our series of reports looking at harmful state Medicaid work requirement rules targeting very poor parents is getting longer. Today we are releasing an updated look at Oklahoma’s proposal, which is currently up for public comment at the federal level. The impact of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s proposed could mean some of the state’s poorest parents would lose health coverage altogether. And that loss of coverage will affect their children, who may lose coverage, as well. [Joan Alker / OK Policy] Friday is the last day to submit a comment on this proposal; to send your feedback, visit

Prosperity Policy: A message for our new governor: Kevin Stitt became governor of Oklahoma this week at a highly promising time for our state. “With rising employment and positive outlooks across most industries, the outlook for Oklahoma’s economy heading into 2019 appears positive,” wrote the head of the Oklahoma City office of the Federal Reserve Bank in a mid-December report. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

David Blatt: Oklahoma’s budget situation is some better … Don’t blow it: After a decade of budget shortfalls and cuts to core services, Oklahoma’s finances are finally on a path toward recovery. Revenues are growing and lawmakers expect to have substantially more money for next year’s budget. [David Blatt / OK Policy]

In The News

Study: Thousands in Oklahoma could lose Medicaid coverage: Thousands of Oklahomans could lose Medicaid coverage if the state is allowed to implement work requirements for the public health insurance program, according to a study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. The study found that anywhere from 4,000 to 13,000 adults could lose coverage. [NewsOK ????]

Point of View: Medicaid work requirements make for bad policy: According to America’s Health Rankings, Oklahoma slipped to 47th in overall health in 2018, down from 43rd in 2017. Oklahoma is among the last states that continue to reject federal funding to expand Medicaid. Due in large part to this, Oklahoma has one of the nation’s highest uninsured rates. By these numbers, it is safe to say that Oklahoma is not doing fine. A proposal sent to the federal government by the state could make it worse. [Savannah Stumph / NewsOK]

Oklahoma Earns a C- on Chance-for-Success Index, Ranks 47th in Nation: Quality Counts reports state grades for educational performance in three installments. The January installment provides results on the Chance-for-Success Index, one-third of a state’s overall grade. Diving into the findings, Oklahoma earns a C- in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks 47th. The average state earns a C-plus. [Education Week]

Stitt settles into office on first full day: Gov. Kevin Stitt spent his first full day in office attending events, receiving staff briefings and getting settled into his Capitol office, while his new acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services began evaluating the agency’s performance. [NewsOK] Gov. Stitt emphasizes unity following Inaugural Prayer Service. [Fox25]

Fallin leaves unfulfilled record requests: Former Gov. Mary Fallin left several requests for public records unfulfilled as she exited office this week, including some that were more than four years old. At least 24 open records requests made during Fallin’s tenure appear to be outstanding, according to a list of all record requests obtained by The Oklahoman. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma agency data breach included details of FBI investigations, AIDS patient names: A cybersecurity research team discovered millions of files unsecured and open to the public on a server belonging to the Oklahoma Department of Securities, team members reported Wednesday. The UpGuard Data Breach Research team found three terabytes and millions of files that could have been accessed by virtually anyone. [NewsOK]

Senate leader files bills to grant governor authority to appoint five agency heads: Oklahoma’s governor would be given the authority to appoint five of the state’s top agency directors under a series of bills filed Wednesday by state Senate leader Greg Treat. If all five bills pass, the governor would be given the authority to appoint the administrator of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; the director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation; the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections; the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and the executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs. [NewsOK]

Bill seeks to make sheriff elections nonpartisan: An Oklahoma lawmaker introduced a measure that is designed to take some politics out of law enforcement. State Rep. Johnny Tadlock, R-Idabel, filed legislation that would make Oklahoma the nation’s sixth state to adopt nonpartisan elections for county sheriffs. [Journal Record]

Resolutions filed to place more state questions on ballot: Although none of the constitutional amendments that Oklahoma lawmakers put before the voters passed in the 2018 cycle, a handful of legislative members have filed more resolutions that would make for more state questions. In 2018, voters rejected all three state questions that the Legislature had put on the ballot. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma senator files bill allowing for ‘county option’ on marijuana businesses; relative with grow operation says its passage could ‘crush’ family investment: A northwest Oklahoma senator filed a bill this week that, if passed, would allow counties to opt out of having medical marijuana businesses — drawing a rebuke from a relative who owns a cultivation enterprise in his district. [Tulsa World]

Steady pour: Alcohol tax revenues even despite law changes: Sales tax revenues have shifted, but overall collections are relatively unchanged one fiscal quarter after historic changes to Oklahoma’s alcohol laws. A slow October was followed by a strong November and average December to close out 2018. Despite the increased availability of alcoholic beverages sold by retailers across the state, Oklahoma collected only about $900,000 in additional alcohol sales tax revenues compared to the fourth quarter in 2017. [NewsOK]

Commissioners work on jail priorities: New commissioners are dealing with an issue that has been ongoing for years in Oklahoma County. Both commissioner Kevin Calvey and Carrie Blumert said fixing problems at the Oklahoma County jail is a priority. “It’s number one,” Calvey said. “It’s number two, it’s number three. This is the biggest public policy problem in our community right now.” [Fox25]

Mental health gaps seen in OK County jail death: While struggling with mental health issues, Krysten Gonzalez wound up in trouble with the law and, eventually, in the Oklahoma County jail, where she died the afternoon of Jan. 8. Authorities say Gonzalez, 29, hanged herself. The case has raised questions about the jail’s operations, but it also highlights Oklahoma’s need for more mental health treatment facilities. [Editorial Board / NewsOK]

Restoring Pell Grants for prisoners would save Oklahoma $2.4 million per year, report shows: Restoring access to Pell Grants for inmates would result in about 500,000 incarcerated people — nearly 10,000 in Oklahoma — becoming eligible to receive the financial aid, according to a report from the Vera Institute of Justice and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. [NewsOK]

Food assistance benefits to arrive by Sunday despite shutdown: People who receive federal food assistance in Oklahoma will get their February funds by Sunday, but the Oklahoma Department of Human Services asked them not to spend it all immediately. The U.S. Department of Agriculture came up with the early distribution to keep food assistance flowing through February. [NewsOK]

Child nutrition program underused in rural areas: When school is out, a decent meal can be harder to come by for many schoolchildren across the state. Nearly 60 percent of Oklahoma K-12 kids qualify for free and reduced lunches at school. It’s a meal they can rely on during the most of the year, but when summer comes around the meal often goes away. [Enid News & Eagle]

Regents for Higher Education seek $100M of anticipated $612M Oklahoma budget increase: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education want a piece of Oklahoma’s anticipated $612 million dollar budget increase. Chancellor Glen Johnson laid out a spending plan for a requested $101.5 million increase Wednesday at Northeastern State University’s Broken Arrow campus. [Public Radio Tulsa]

New office to review Tulsa Police internal investigations, evaluate community policing initiatives: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum wants to take a page from Denver’s city government playbook and set up a new layer of police oversight. The Office of the Independent Monitor will review Tulsa Police Department internal investigations as they happen and issue public reports on its findings. [Public Radio Tulsa] Tulsa City Council postpones vote for public hearings on racial disparities in policing. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“As a pediatrician, I fear the ramifications of work requirements on my families. I fear for my patients in rural Oklahoma, where job opportunities are scarce but where more people depend on SoonerCare. I fear for my single mothers who could be forced into suboptimal childcare solutions to try to work more hours. I fear for a father, once the head of the household and now unemployed and unable to work after a massive stroke. And I fear for my pediatric patients with chronic illnesses who may not be disabled but who require constant care from a parent.”

-Edmond pediatrician Savannah Stumph, writing about Oklahoma’s push to terminate SoonerCare coverage for parents who don’t correctly report their work hours. [Source: NewsOK] You can make a public comment on this proposal through Friday, Jan. 18 by going to

Number of the Day

$133 million

Amount of road funding for Oklahoma that has been delayed due to the federal government shutdown.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Transportation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

To get mental health help for a child, desperate parents relinquish custody: The advocates blame decades of inadequate funding for in-home and community-based services across the country — a lack of funding that has chipped away at the mental health system. Without that early intervention, children deteriorate to the point of being needlessly hospitalized and requiring costly residential care.Until that underlying problem is addressed, child advocates say, the problem of families trading custody for treatment will never truly be solved. [NPR]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.