In The Know: Medicaid politics affect Oklahoma pizza employee

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 the Associated Press reported on how a low-income worker with diabetes has been stockpiling medication out of concern that he could lose health insurance due to Oklahoma’s obstruction of the Affordable Care Act. David Blatt’s Journal Record column explains the three simple reforms at the heart of Obamacare. Legal experts say that at least one measure passed in the Legislature’s special session on tort reform may be thrown out as unconstitutional.

Oklahoma’s general revenue collections dropped more than 10 percent in August compared to the previous year. The OK Policy Blog discusses how the arms race to offer businesses ever-more generous tax breaks is lose-lose for cities and states. The Oklahoma Gazette examined how a foundation is helping to supplement funding for schools serving some of Oklahoma City’s poorest children.

In a Q&A with StateImpact Oklahoma, Oklahoma’s new secretary of energy and environment said that Oklahoma’s biggest environmental challenge is water quality and quantity. Former House Speaker Kris Steele wrote an op-ed for the Oklahoman on why Congress should pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Medicaid-enrolled kids in Oklahoma who do not receive dental care. In today’s Policy Note, Reuters examines how Missouri Governor Jay Nixon won a battle to prevent tax cuts that threatened to gut funding for education and other services.

In The News

Medicaid politics affect Oklahoma pizza employee

Chris Gatliff, a 38-year-old diabetic, says he feels like a victim of politics. His home state, Oklahoma, opted against accepting the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The result is that thousands of Oklahomans who would have qualified under the expanded program are left in limbo about their health insurance. At the same time, a Medicaid-linked program called Insure Oklahoma that provides Gatliff with his current coverage was due to expire Dec. 31. That left him facing the prospect of having no insurance at the end of the year, so the part-time pizza shop employee began planning to stockpile his medications.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Prosperity Policy: Obamacare 1, 2, 3

Despite its notorious intricacies and length, the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare, as it is frequently called – is at its heart quite simple and comprehensible. Its essence can be boiled down to three short but far-reaching reforms, as demonstrated at a recent presentation in Tulsa by political scientist Theda Skocpol. First, there are new rules for private insurance companies and employers that will fill some major coverage gaps. Second, new health insurance marketplaces will allow people to shop for and purchase private plans. Third, subsidies and Medicaid extensions will make coverage affordable for low- and moderate-income families.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Will certificate of merit hold up to the state Constitution?

Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Tuesday all 23 lawsuit reform bills approved by the Oklahoma Legislature in special session, restoring civil justice changes that had been thrown out by the state Supreme Court. The most controversial of those bills returns the requirement that a third-party expert approve the merits of certain cases before they can be heard in court. Legal experts questioned whether this measure would stand up to challenge.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma tax collections dip in August

State finance officials say unusually high income tax refunds are partly responsible for a more than 10 percent drop in August revenue collections to Oklahoma’s general revenue fund that is used to finance state government. Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger says total collections last month to the state’s general revenue fund were $347.6 million. That’s a decrease of $38.8 million from the same month one year ago. Doerflinger says the dip was a “single-month anomaly” rather than a reflection of the state’s economy.

Read more from the Associated Press.

How the incentives arms race is a lose-lose for cities and states

A firm announces a plan to build a new facility, but where? Local and state development officials compete to attract the firm with ever-more-generous tax breaks and subsidies. This scene plays out again and again – even though research shows that incentives do not substantially influence firm behavior, even in the face of media exposes about wasteful giveaways. Why? Governments hope to encourage jobs and business profits, and hubris leads officials to believe “this time will be different,” even if incentives have not worked before.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Foundation offers help to schools of Oklahoma City’s poorest students and families

More than 17,000 students in Oklahoma City Public Schools live in households making $11,000 a year or less. It’s a sobering statistic, one the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation is trying to change. Lori Dickinson is entering her fifth year as the foundation’s president. Her passion and enthusiasm is apparent as she talks animatedly about the district and its kids. “So many of our children do not know what the statistics say about their future,” Dickinson said. “They dream, they play, they learn. I still can’t fathom 2,200 of our students are homeless. I can’t believe I never knew before joining the foundation that 35,000 students live at or below the federal poverty line. Once I knew the truth, it changed my world.”

Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette.

Q&A: Oklahoma’s new secretary of energy and environment

Traditionally, Oklahoma’s governor has relied on advice from separate officials representing energy and the environment. But in July, Gov. Mary Fallin moved to combine the two offices into one. “Strong energy policy is strong environmental policy,” Fallin said in a statement accompanying an executive order creating the new Secretary of Energy and Environment cabinet secretary post. But environmentalists criticized the merger, and Oklahoma’s biggest oil lobby questioned the man picked for the new post, Col. Michael Teague, the former head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tulsa District. StateImpact asked Teague some questions after his first week on the new job.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Kris Steele: It’s time for Congress to produce immigration solution

Immigration is often emotionally charged and politically divisive. Regardless of your political leanings, however, we all start with this agreement: The current system doesn’t work. We know we must do a better and more effective job of protecting our borders. And we agree the current situation is de facto amnesty — we have neither the financial resources nor the willpower to deport 11 million people. The time has come to find a solution. Congress must act. America can’t sustain its economy without immigration.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

Anything that challenges the fundamental right to access the court is going to be challenged and should be challenged. You shouldn’t have to go out and hire an expert before you ever even access the courts. That’s a fundamental right.

-Tulsa attorney Glenn Beustring, on a law requiring plaintiffs to obtain a “certificate of merit” from an expert before their case can be heard in court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has twice thrown this law out as unconstitutional, but lawmakers approved it again during the recently ended special session (Source:

Number of the Day

49.9 percent

The percentage of Medicaid-enrolled kids in Oklahoma who do not receive dental care

Source: Pew Research, 2011

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Missouri governor wins battle to prevent tax cuts

Missouri’s Democratic governor on Wednesday won a high-profile battle with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature over tax cuts that he vetoed out of concern they would gut funding for education and other services. In June, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the legislation containing the cuts, and Republicans sought to override the veto. But the bill’s proponents in the state House of Representatives on Wednesday fell 15 votes short of the 109 needed to override. The bill had passed with 103 votes in the 163-member chamber in May.

Read more from Reuters.

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.