In The Know: Medicaid agency announces 25-percent provider cuts

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.

Today In The News

Medicaid agency announces 25-percent provider cuts: A state agency announced Tuesday that it is cutting reimbursement rates paid to more than 46,000 Medicaid providers by 25 percent – an amount that the head of the Oklahoma Hospital Association said will have a “market changing” effect on health care in the state. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which oversees Medicaid in Oklahoma, announced plans for the rate cuts to take effect in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1. The cuts come amid plunging state revenue collections and a roughly $1.3 billion hole in next year’s state budget. Craig Jones, the president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, which represents more than 135 hospitals and health care systems across the state, said the cuts will be devastating to the health care of Oklahoma’s poorest citizens [Associated Press]. Health care groups expressed worry for patients with serious conditions who rely on Medicaid [NewsOn6].

Agency workers say budget cuts hurt state citizens: Oklahoma state workers called on lawmakers Tuesday to implement a series of measures to raise revenue, in order to avoid further cuts to state agencies and services that they said are harming the vulnerable citizens they serve. About 20 state workers and retirees from various agencies accused legislative leaders of a lack of leadership in the budget-writing process and urged them to release details of the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Legislative budget writers are working to close a projected $1.3 billion hole in the state spending plan for next year due in part to declining energy prices. So far this year, Oklahoma officials have twice ordered state agencies to reduce their spending due to revenue shortfalls during the fiscal year that ends June 30 [Associated Press].

Academic Standards Approved, But Not Without One Final Battle: Oklahoma’s new academic standards passed through the legislature and are now officially in effect. Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, says the next step is helping schools implement the new standards in their classrooms. “Our teachers, our schools, and our districts, have been waiting. And the real work begins now,” she said. Hofmeister said the State Department of Education will now help districts create book lists, and math materials to go along with the English Language Arts and math standards [KOSU].

Oklahoma budget work is ongoing, lawmaker says: The chairman of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee wants people to know his panel has been working diligently to fill a $1.3 billion budget hole even though much of the work has been done behind closed doors. Some fellow lawmakers and policy groups have said that with this year’s four-month legislative session half over, it’s surprising major plans for boosting revenue have not emerged from the committee. The House has approved a plan that seeks to gain more tax from Internet sales, but questions remain about how extensively it can be implemented, so its fiscal impact is unclear [NewsOK].

Officials say the Oklahoma Corrections Department has paid a record $92.7 million to a pair of out-of-state private prison companies for one year of housing Oklahoma inmates: Officials say the Oklahoma Corrections Department has paid a record $92.7 million to a pair of out-of-state private prison companies to house Oklahoma inmates for one year. The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma has spent about $975 million since 2004 on contracts with the two for-profit corrections enterprises, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America and Florida-based GEO Group, Inc. The agency says the record high expense this past year was necessary to deal with the state’s persistent overcrowding problem [Associated Press].

Time to do what works on criminal justice reform: For too long, Oklahoma legislators have pursued a “tough on crime” posture, despite the evidence that it hasn’t prevented crime and the existence of less expensive alternatives that would keep us safer. But this year, Oklahoma might finally be ready to move in a “smart on crime” direction. Oklahoma incarcerates more of its citizens than any state except Louisiana. According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, state prisons are at 123 percent capacity, with bunks being squeezed into gymnasiums and other common areas [Ryan Gentzler / Tulsa World].

The Legislature is sending mixed signals on mental health and incarceration: The connection between mental health and Oklahoma’s sky-high incarceration rate isn’t lost on Oklahoma lawmakers. As Sen. A.J. Griffin recently said, “We spend less money on mental health services, and we have a very high frequency of mental health patients in our corrections systems. It’s backward. It’s much more expensive to incarcerate them than to treat them.” This year, at least one proposal by the Legislature could begin to shift Oklahoma in a better direction [OK Policy].

Bill Would Change Work Qualifications for Juvenile, Corrections Directors: Under current state law, the new executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs appears ineligible to hold the job. In addition, the new Oklahoma Department of Corrections interim director appears ineligible to become the permanent director. In an effort to smooth the issue, the Legislature is considering a Senate bill that would reduce the work experience requirements for both positions. That would move Steven Buck closer to qualifying by law for the job he was appointed to in January – executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs [Oklahoma Watch].

Kansas Tried Tax Cuts. Its Neighbor Didn’t. Guess Which Worked.: For the past few years, Kansas’s Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his allies in the state’s legislature have been conducting a fiscal experiment involving big cuts in income taxes for individuals and businesses. The theory was that this “march to zero income taxes,” as Brownback has called it, would spur entrepreneurship, economic growth and lots of job creation — 25,000 new jobs in each of the next four years, Brownback pledged during his successful re-election campaign in 2014. There have been repeated budget shortfalls since Brownback first took office in January 2011, which have led to repeated proclamations in the national news media that the Kansas experiment has failed [Bloomberg View]. The Kansas tax cut experiment has a close cousin in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Williams begins layoffs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City: The layoffs that Williams Cos. CEO Alan Armstrong announced earlier this month during a town hall with employees began Tuesday, according to a company spokesman. The workforce reductions will affect around 100 of the 1,000 people currently working in the pipeline company’s Tulsa headquarters. The layoffs are taking place across North America and in total with affect 10 percent, or around 670 workers, across the continent [Tulsa World].

Commissioner Says Quake Report Supports State Actions, Legislator Says the Commission’s Blowing Smoke: Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy says the new U.S. Geological Survey report proclaiming Oklahoma as the state with the highest earthquake risk in the U.S. supports the actions taken by the commission in targeting the state’s saltwater disposal wells. But the OCC’s actions are also being criticized by a legislator who wants to unseat Murphy as Commissioner. “The new map released by the United States Geological Survey is another element that clearly shows the need for the actions that have been taken by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to reduce the risk of induced earthquakes in Oklahoma,” said Murphy in a release issued late Monday [OK Energy Today].

OK Legislature Considers Legalizing Non-Intoxicating CBD Oil In Adults: Parents of children with seizures say they are having great success with a type of non-intoxicating cannabis oil, that was legalized in Oklahoma last year. Now, lawmakers are considering making the same oil legal for some adults as well. House Bill 2835 has already overwhelmingly passed in the House and how has moved to the Senate where it’s gained the support of state Sen. Ervin Yen who is also a doctor [News9].

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects appropriation bills challenge: The Oklahoma Supreme Court says a lawsuit challenging legislation that has funded state agencies and services over a three-year period is without merit. The high court on Tuesday rejected allegations by Republican former state Rep. Mike Reynolds that general appropriations bills adopted by the Oklahoma Legislature between 2012 and 2014 were unconstitutional. The annual legislation is the principal source of funding for state agencies and services [Associated Press].

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects unclaimed property lawsuit: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and administration of the state’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. The state’s highest court handed down the decision Tuesday in a lawsuit against Treasurer Ken Miller, who administers Oklahoma’s unclaimed property fund. Among other things, the lawsuit claimed the state operated a Ponzi scheme by raiding the fund and using the money to pay for state government operations. The program was created to return unclaimed property, such as jewelry, stock certificates and cash, to their rightful owners [Associated Press].

Quote of the Day

“I worry about the infrastructure of our health care system in light of these cuts. From a business standpoint, I’m afraid many providers will close their doors to our patients. In some cases, especially in rural parts of our state, health care professionals will have to move their business to larger communities in order to survive financially.”

-Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez, on 25 percent cuts to provider rates for Fiscal Year 2017 (Source)

Number of the Day


Years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 of the population in Oklahoma. The US median is 7,700

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

America has locked up so many black people it has warped our sense of reality: For as long as the government has kept track, the economic statistics have shown a troubling racial gap. Black people are twice as likely as white people to be out of work and looking for a job. This fact was as true in 1954 as it is today. The most recent report puts the white unemployment rate at around 4.5 percent. The black unemployment rate? About 8.8 percent. But the economic picture for black Americans is far worse than those statistics indicate. The unemployment rate only measures people who are both living at home and actively looking for a job [Washington Post].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

2 thoughts on “In The Know: Medicaid agency announces 25-percent provider cuts

  1. So the (it turns out) illegally officed DOC director can’t see any other solution to a level of private prison use that Justin Jones managed to keep at much lower rates when he was DOC director before he was forced out of office by elected officials who received tons of “contributions” from private prison companies upset with his success at using other solutions to keep private prison use and expense down (county jails, maintenance paid for by revolving funds, etc.). Does Chiquita Bananas actually have to have sites in OK for the state to be a banana republic or can it apply to private prison companies, too? A CCA Republic?? Maybe the new laws can have CCA directly appoint the new DOC director (the current one appears to be an excellent choice) and just eliminate all the middlemen and save CCA a bunch of “campaign contributions” to people who never have had serious campaign challenges. Efficiency–that’s what the market is all about.

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