In The Know: Fallin leaves door open to accepting federal health care funds

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 Governor Fallin has not closed the door on accepting federal funds to extend health care to the poorest Oklahomans, and state business leaders are pushing to accept the funds using the Insure Oklahoma model. Oklahoma Watch held an event with state health leaders fielding questions about the Affordable Care Act. The federal government argued in a court filing that the ACA won’t hurt Oklahoma or state businesses, and a lawsuit by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is not halting implementation of the federal health-care law.

A family friend of Governor Fallin wrote an open letter in the Huffington Post challenging her decision to block same-sex marriage benefits for National Guard members. The OK Policy Blog shared a strategy municipalities can use to combat urban sprawl while avoiding economic distortions. National Journal spoke to an advocate for Oklahoma’s food banks about the politics of cutting food stamps.

An OETA report examines the result of Oklahoma making the biggest education funding cuts in the nation. Oklahoma’s early learning programs could be improved under President Obama’s proposal to expand early childhood education by raising federal tobacco taxes. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses the challenges Oklahoma still faces to fix our child welfare system.

The Number of the Day is the average number of health plans that Oklahomans will be able to choose from on the new Affordable Care Act marketplace. In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg News explains why the facts don’t back up Senator Ted Cruz’s claim that Obamacare is killing jobs.

In The News

Fallin leaves door open to accepting federal health care funds

Oklahoma Gov. Fallin has consistently expressed opposition to Medicaid expansion as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act. However, a close ally said she has “not closed the door” on an expansion along lines envisioned by state advisors in the Leavitt Group, a consulting firm that has examined the state’s options under the legislation known as “ObamaCare.” And, she is under constant pressure to shift her stance by key supporters in the health care industry. More recently, former state Rep. Fred Morgan, now CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, applauded the Insure Oklahoma program developed almost a decade ago that assists the working poor, indicating it could become a means to expand coverage to Oklahomans presently ininsured.

Read more from CapitolBeatOK.

Panelists field questions on Affordable Care Act

Apprehension and optimism abound in Oklahoma as the Affordable Care Act shifts into higher gear with the opening of the federally-run health-care marketplace on Oct. 1. At the same time, residents and business owners are awaiting the unveiling of an “Oklahoma Plan” to expand health coverage and improve health outcomes that Gov. Mary Fallin promised in her State of the State speech earlier this year. These and other topics were discussed Tuesday evening during Oklahoma Watch’s first “Oklahoma Watch-Out” community forum at Kamps 1910 Café in Oklahoma City.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Court filing says Affordable Care Act won’t hurt Oklahoma, state businesses

The Affordable Care Act will not harm Oklahoma’s business environment or penalize the state for failure to provide adequate health insurance to its employees, federal officials claimed in court filings Wednesday. Attorneys for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius included those claims in their answer Wednesday to Oklahoma’s federal lawsuit challenging the law. With enrollment set to open Tuesday, the lawsuit by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt does not appear poised to halt implementation of the sweeping federal health-care law.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

An open letter to Gov. Mary Fallin

Dear Gov. Mary Fallin, I hope that this letter finds you well, and that your day is off to a great start. You may not remember me, so allow me to reintroduce myself to you. I’m Dillon Peña, a former friend and acquaintance of your daughter Christina. I’ve been to your house in northwest Oklahoma City. I’ve been to a festival at the Oklahoma River with you. I’ve broken bread and had dinner with you at Red Rock, and you have even been to church with me. Although I am currently a New York City resident, Oklahoma remains the home of my heart. However, today, Governor, in the eyes of the great state of Oklahoma, my two brothers and I are not equal.

Read more from the Huffington Post.

A strategy to to combat urban sprawl and fund local services

Urban sprawl has worried community officials, urban planners, and concerned citizens for the past several decades. Residents in sprawling cities commonly deal with worse pollution, longer commutes, poorer health, and higher costs of providing public services than those who live in more compact areas. While these effects may be exacerbated by larger urban populations, cities of even moderate size can feel the effects of urban sprawl. For example a report attempting to measure urban sprawl found that in 2000, Oklahoma City and Tulsa were both more sprawled than the Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Fight over food stamps has many complexities

Why did all but 15 Republicans decide last week that they could vote for a $39 billion cut to food stamps over the next 10 years even though participation in the program has gone up during the recession? The experience of Torri Christian, director of advocacy and policy for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank for Eastern Oklahoma, goes a long way in explaining why support for food stamps in low-income Southern states is so low among their Republican politicians.

Read more from the National Journal.

Oklahoma has made biggest education funding cuts in the nation

Education officials voice concerns after a new report shows that Oklahoma leads the nation in education spending cuts.

Watch the video from OETA.

Oklahoma’s early learning programs could benefit from proposed tax increase

Oklahoma’s early learning programs are among the best in the country, but could be improved under President Barack Obama’s proposal to expand early childhood education by raising federal tobacco taxes. The initiative would provide 4,337 more children from low- and moderate-income families across the state with access to preschool and prekindergarten programs and prevent 25,800 kids from becoming addicted smokers, according to a report released Wednesday by nine organizations that focus on early learning and public health.

Read more from NewsOK.

Prosperity Policy: Fulfilling the pledge

Fifteen months after Oklahoma finalized a historic plan to transform its child welfare system, significant changes have been put in place. However, major obstacles remain, and the ultimate success of the Pinnacle Plan will depend on many more years of hard work, increased resources and shared commitment. Last year, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced the Pinnacle Plan, the outcome of a settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit challenging the state’s treatment of children in foster care. The system was faulted for widespread failures in protecting vulnerable children, including allowing abuse of children in its care, placing children in overcrowded and understaffed emergency shelters, and failing to provide secure and long-term placements.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Quote of the Day

Governor, it pains me to recognize that when you didn’t know I am gay, you considered me equal. It pains me to know that my beloved Oklahoma appears to be like Alabama of the 1960s, not moving forward but stagnating in prejudice and inequality no longer suited for our country. My prayer for you and the state of Oklahoma is that you move forward on civil rights issues and certainly not take steps backwards.

-Dillon Pena, a family friend of Governor Fallin, in an open letter to the Governor about her decision to block same sex marriage benefits for Oklahoma National Guard members (Source:

Number of the Day


Average number of health plans that Oklahomans will be able to choose from on the new Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via The Tulsa World

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Lots of words and few facts from Ted Cruz

Exactly what Ted Cruz accomplished with his 21-hour stemwinder from the Senate floor yesterday and today is unclear. What’s not debatable is his central argument against President Barack Obama’s health-care-reform law — that it is “the single biggest job-killer in America.” It’s flat wrong. Cruz not only claims that joblessness is growing because of that most fearsome of boogeymen, Obamacare. The Texas Republican, whose speech was designed to delay a government-spending bill that would defund Obamacare, also says the Affordable Care Act is forcing people with full-time jobs into part-time work. The facts say otherwise.

Read more from Bloomberg.

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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