In The Know: Medicaid cuts could cripple Oklahoma nursing homes

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 cuts could cripple area nursing homes: News from Oklahoma Health Care Authority stating a 25 percent Medicaid reimbursement cut across the board is looming could result in a catastrophe for nursing facilities across the state. This leave some homes with no choice but to layoff employees, close their doors and displace thousands of residents. If this cut goes through in the next 60 days, data from Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers indicate nearly 17,000 residents will lose their nursing homes when about 269 of 289 are forced to shut off the lights and close down. [The Duncan Banner]

Budget woes could push more people into nursing homes: Providers in a state program that takes care of the elderly and disabled in their own homes are worried that budget cuts will send their clients into nursing homes. Hank Ross, owner of Ross Health Care in Chickasha, said the state-funded ADvantage Waiver Program is in danger of being cut in the budget year that begins this July. More than 23,000 people in Oklahoma use the waiver to stay at home or in an assisted living center and receive services there, according to the Home and Community Based Services Council. [Journal Record]

Long-Time OKC Pediatrician Office Closing After Medicaid Cuts: Dr. Brian Lepley has been a pediatrician in Oklahoma City for 31 years treating generations of families. On June 1 of this year, he is expecting to close his practice due to cuts on SoonerCare reimbursement. Lepley and his wife, a family nurse practitioner, have grown their practice from ground up. On Tuesday, March 29, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced that provider rates for Oklahoma Medicaid will be cut 25 percent. Lepley said this isn’t the first time cuts have been made, but this is the worst he’s seen it. [News9]

Budget cuts further affect people with developmental disabilities: Even in this time of state revenue crisis, Wanda Felty remains hopeful and determined to help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Felty can’t pinpoint the exact moment or describe the person who first shared with her about the waiting list for seeking state-paid care for developmental disabilities. It’s a blurry spot in the many years Felty spent desperately trying to find services to help her daughter, Kayla White, while raising her three children and holding down a job. [OK Gazette]

Safety net programs affected by budget cuts: Family and adult services workers at the Pontotoc County Department of Human Services office are seeing a rise in caseloads as the state’s budget collapse carves millions out of the DHS budget. DHS county director Allan Morris for Pontotoc, Seminole and Hughes counties said the agency has been forced to consolidate caseloads as a result of buyouts and workforce reduction programs, leaving some counties struggling to keep up with their clients. The result of the shift is that now, clients in all three counties will experience longer delays in receiving assistance. [The Ada News]

When failure is not an option, you take care of your people: When I graduated from law school (more years ago than I care to highlight) I joined the U.S. Navy and served for 3 ½ years. I was accepted into the JAG Corps. which made me soon eligible for officer’s pay, a substantial monthly paycheck the likes of which I had never before seen. In addition, I noticed I was nearly always getting more money for something: mileage, per diem, extra duty, moving expense, etc. I never felt that I was overpaid (who does?), but I felt well taken care of. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma City teacher running for office laid off by school district: A metro teacher who is running for state office is one of more than 200 teachers being laid off by the Oklahoma City school district. Mickey Dollens is losing his job as a freshman English teacher at U.S. Grant High School. He’s using it as a real life lesson for his students. “Sometimes life throws at us situations that we can’t always control. But what can we control?” Dollens asked his students in class Thursday afternoon. “Ourselves,” his class replied. [KFOR]

State budget crisis could force Kirkland Elementary students to switch schools: The Putnam City School Board will soon consider a proposal that would only allow pre-kindergarten through second grade to remain at Kirkland Elementary, turning the school into an early childhood center. The third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students would be moved to either Rollingwood Elementary or Coronado Heights Elementary. If approved, class sizes could grow by about three to five more students. [KOCO]

Ada holds rally to empower Oklahoma schools amid budget crisis: More than 400 people from several school districts came together at Ada Cougar Activity Center Tuesday night to show support for Oklahoma schools. Parent said they were thankful for the opportunity to show appreciation for their teachers. The rally comes less than a week after Ada schools announced they are shortening the school year to save money for next year’s budget cuts. Larger class sizes and a continued hiring freeze are expected in the days to come. [News12]

Sen. Mike Mazzei argues tax cut can be stopped without supermajority: Oklahoma will have $1.3 billion less to appropriate for fiscal 2017. But if you think we can write a balanced budget and avoid any cuts to our schools, health care or public safety by cutting other agencies and services, think again. If you remove all the agencies that deal with those core services and then completely eliminate everything else altogether, you’d only close the budget gap by about $500 million — less than half of the shortfall. [Sen. Mike Mazzei / Tulsa World]

Measure would let Dept. of Labor issue fines: A proposal to let the Oklahoma Department of Labor implement fines is one vote away from the governor’s desk. Senate Bill 1198, if adopted, would give the DOL authority to create an administrative fine schedule for workplace safety violations. State law already allows the department to seek misdemeanor criminal charges for violations. State Rep. John Paul Jordan, an author of the bill, said the provisions would give an inspector another choice besides criminal charges or nothing at all. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma gasoline taxes haven’t been raised in nearly three decades: The amount of tax drivers pay at the pumps in Oklahoma hasn’t increased in nearly 30 years. A look at this tax by the Oklahoma Policy Institute show Oklahoma is losing out on millions of dollars a year by not raising it. The state collects 17 cents a gallon on regular gas and 14-cents a gallon of diesel. Those rates were set in 1987 [Fox 25]. A temporary gas tax increase whenever prices are low could help stabilize Oklahoma’s revenue rollercoaster [OK Policy].

Bond issues, tax proposals to highlight Tuesday’s ballot in Oklahoma: Shawnee voters are being asked to approve a $32 million bond issue that would fund a new elementary school, renovation and upgrades at Shawnee High School and several other construction projects. The proposal is one of several matters on ballots in the greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area Tuesday [NewsOK]. Tulsa County voters will elect a new sheriff and vote on four propositions to extend a sales tax assessment for public safety, transportation, economic development, and county infrastructure [Tulsa World].

Con-con: A bad idea that won’t go away: It’s the bad idea that simply won’t go away: A constitutional convention. On the surface, it sounds perfectly reasonable: Delegates from all 50 states comes together to approve an amendment (or amendments) that will make the country better. What could be more democratic? Well, other than every voter in the country going to the polls to approve or disapprove every law, bill or amendment proposed in Congress. That’s the dirty little secret: Pure democracy would likely be a mess. [Mike Jones / Tulsa World] We don’t need to put everything at risk with a constitutional convention whose course and outcome can neither be known nor controlled. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma death penalty panel has its work cut out: The U.S. Supreme Court has said as recently as last year, when it ruled on a sedative that’s used in Oklahoma executions, that the manner in which Oklahoma carries out the death penalty is constitutional. But is the same true of the overall process? This will be the focus of a yearlong study to be led by former Gov. Brad Henry, with help from the Constitution Project, a research nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. [Oklahoman Editorial Board]

Juvenile affairs agency chief touts shift in focus: Steve Buck, new director of the state Office of Juvenile Affairs, says he is convinced that the state agency he now heads has to start paying more attention to those youths in crisis before they end up behind bars. “We have an opportunity to bend the trajectory for these kids so they can succeed in their communities when they become adults,” Buck said. “We shouldn’t see ourselves as a feeder to the Department of Corrections, or a placeholder for these kids” until they are old enough to be incarcerated in the adult prison system. [Tulsa World]

Path open to complete Oklahoma’s American Indian museum: It was conceived as a world-class showcase for Oklahoma’s American Indian heritage: a museum and cultural center in the heart of the state once known as Indian Territory would house artifacts and folklore to tell the history of Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized tribes. During the next two decades, however, cost overruns led to political disagreements and a shift in priorities that halted work on the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, now an empty concrete-and-steel curiosity that looms over two interstate highways near downtown Oklahoma City. But the dream that launched the 173,000-square-foot project is being revived [Associated Press].

Quote of the Day

Many well-intentioned Oklahoma politicians believe that delaying the tax cut amounts to a so-called “revenue” bill and would require a 3/4ths vote of the Legislature. However, changes made to tax law items such as incentive criteria, termination of credits and trigger adjustments, which have incidentally raised revenue, have not been successfully challenged or interpreted as revenue bills. For this reason, I believe delaying the tax cut only requires a majority vote of both the House and Senate. Furthermore, our conservative constituents from all across the state overwhelmingly support this financially pragmatic adjustment.

-Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, arguing that Oklahoma should delay this year’s cut to the top income tax rate amid a massive budget shortfall (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of handgun licenses approved in Oklahoma in 2015.

Source: OK State Bureau of Investigation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States Get New Tool to Collect Taxes Due on Internet Sales: A federal court just handed states a powerful new tool to collect a larger share of the taxes that are legally due — but often go unpaid — on purchases made over the Internet. The court upheld a 2010 Colorado law that requires Internet, catalog, and other out-of-state sellers either to charge Colorado sales tax on their sales to Colorado buyers or to provide information about the tax due on those purchases to the buyer and the state revenue department. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Medicaid cuts could cripple Oklahoma nursing homes

  1. It is unfortunate that irresponsible management of state funds cause so much havoc for our children, elderly and poor. Common sense (obviously lacking here) would lead me as a leader to seek and implement new industry in the state instead of relying so heavily on oil/gas industry and the fluctuations that affect this economy.

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