In The Know: GOP health bills would cost Oklahoma rural hospitals millions, study says

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

GOP health bills would cost Oklahoma rural hospitals millions, study says: he U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a health care plan Tuesday that could cost Oklahoma hospitals millions in lost revenue. The Senate is expected to take up the American Health Care Act, the House’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Oklahoma hospitals would lose more than $25 million after one year under the AHCA, according to projections from the Chartis Center for Rural Health. The center is part of a nonpartisan health care consulting group [NewsOK].

Oklahoma teacher panhandles to raise money for school supplies: An Oklahoma teacher frustrated by having to dig into her own pocket to pay for classroom supplies took to panhandling to get her point across. Teresa Danks, 50, of Claremore, Oklahoma, has spent the summer shopping at garage sales and thrift stores to stock her third-grade classroom with supplies for next year. A conversation with her husband last week about the money she was spending on her classroom sparked a bigger idea [ABC News]. Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to both K-12 and higher education since 2009.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Flew Home to Oklahoma Most Weekends on Taxpayer’s Dime, Records Show: Records show the head of the Environmental Protection Agency spent weekends in his home state during his first three months in office, frequently flying to and from Oklahoma at taxpayer’s expense. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s expense reports from March, April and May were released following a Freedom of Information request filed by Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit watchdog group [TIME].

Lankford on health care: ‘It’s got to be done and it’s got to be done right’: Health care is again in the cross-hairs of just about everyone on Capitol Hill this week. As Republican senators continue to debate a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, pressure is mounting from the White House and, especially, President Donald Trump, to get a bill passed [Fox 25]. All versions of the health care reform bill so far would make health care more expensive, cover less, and undercut the safety net [OK Policy].

MULLIN: Now I see real change: Congressman Markwayne Mullin feels like he’s gotten better at his job since he first took office and can now be more effective for the State of Oklahoma. His time on Capital Hill, combined with what he sees as overwhelming support from the new presidential administration, has fostered that change. Seated comfortably in a Braums corner booth, Mullin recounted the ways the new administration has changed the game—and gave updates on the issues on most American’s minds. Not a day goes by, he said, that he isn’t asked about healthcare [Claremore Progress]. 

Oklahoma Concurrent Enrollment Grows as Funding Shrinks: More Oklahoma high school students are registering for college courses as funding for the concurrent enrollment program shrinks. The Oklahoman reports the state’s concurrent enrollment program has allowed high school juniors and seniors to earn college credits since 2005. Seniors are also eligible to receive tuition waivers for six credit hours per semester. For the 2016-17 school year, nearly 19,400 of the state’s high school seniors completed more than 91,000 college credits and didn’t have to pay tuition fees [Associated Press].

Rep. Sanders’ idea about cutting 211 funding was so good that DHS did it … last year: The recent dispute between high-ranking Republicans in the state House of Representatives over the DHS budget seems to have resolved for now, but the final irony — revealed last week by Tulsa World reporter Ginnie Graham — can’t go without comment. When the Department of Human Services implemented the inadequate appropriations mandated by the Legislature, Speaker Charles McCall and Majority Leader Mike Sanders yelped [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]. In the dispute between Republican leaders over DHS funding, here are the facts [OK Policy].

New Oklahoma law frees up the left lane: Attention drivers camping out in the left lane: It’s about to be illegal in Oklahoma. On Nov. 1, law enforcement can stop and ticket drivers — $235.25 and court costs — who stay in the left lane unless they have a good reason to be there. The new law adopted this year by the Oklahoma Legislature prohibits being in the left-most lane of a roadway that has four or more lanes, like a highway with two lanes of travel each going in opposite directions [NewsOK].

Smaligo accuses city of stalling as jail payment resolution again fails: Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo said Monday the city’s contention that it doesn’t have sufficient information to determine how much it should pay to use the Tulsa jail is a “stalling tactic” the county should no longer tolerate. For the second week in a row, Smaligo offered a resolution that would charge the city of Tulsa an annual flat rate of about $3.5 million a year to house prisoners held on municipal charges in the county jail [Tulsa World].

You’ll have to go 650 feet underground in Kansas to find stored Tulsa County records: Six hundred fifty feet below the Kansas plains, in a 900-acre salt mine packed with Hollywood relics, government secrets, seismograph records and assorted minutia, lies the documentary history of Tulsa County. Hundreds of thousands of pages of land records and other Tulsa County Clerk’s Office documents, mostly on microfilm, have for years been stored in what, superficially, seems an unlikely spot. Forty-five miles northwest of Wichita, Hutchinson is a 3 ½-hour drive from Tulsa [Tulsa World].

A question for Oklahoma’s state legislators: The summertime is a good break from all the activities during spring and fall semesters. But there are still recommendations to make, development plans to submit and preparations and training for the fall semester, which within a month. It’s also a good time to find a parking spot on campus and not be fearful of running over a student suddenly darting out in front of you as you try to find a place to park. However, my fear these days is more over whether our state is failing those students who continue to face mounting student loan debts and increasing tuition costs [Joe Hight / Journal Record].

Code for America brigades in Oklahoma promote good government: Since 2009, Code for America has been making a positive impact on governments mostly at the local level. “This is really about people helping people,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America. She was answering questions and speaking to a collection of people in Tulsa Friday from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas Friday. Code for Tulsa hosted the meeting. Participants were there for ideas and fresh approaches to connecting people with local government [Oklahoma City Free Press].

Why are so few Dems looking at Oklahoma statewide races? The 2018 race for Oklahoma governor includes a dozen candidates thus far. Half of those are Republicans, two are Libertarians and four are Democrats. Meantime the list grows of those planning to seek other statewide office, although so far there’s nary a Democrat in sight. Every statewide office in Oklahoma is held by a Republican, and has been since 2010, when the state’s strong rejection of Obama administration policies resulted in the sweep [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

Leo Kingston, former politician and felon, considers 2018 run: Former Oklahoma City state Sen. Leo Kingston says he’s considering a campaign for labor commissioner. Kingston, 67, was a first-term senator when a federal grand jury indicted him for defrauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with his private real estate dealings. He was convicted in 1990 and served three years of an eight-year sentence [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“Teacher Needs School Supplies! Anything Helps.”

– From a sign held by Teresa Danks, a third-grade teacher in Tulsa, while she stood at a highway intersection collecting money for supplies for her classroom. Danks said she spends around $2,000 of her $35,000 salary on classroom supplies each year (Source)

Number of the Day


Uninsured rate for noncitizens in Oklahoma, 2015

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Medicaid Cuts Could Exacerbate the Opioid Epidemic: When Christie Green took her job three years ago as public-health director for the Cumberland Valley District in southeastern Kentucky, she had nearly two decades of experience in the state’s public-health system. But Green still wasn’t prepared for what she saw … “In the first week,” Green recently told me, “I met more people who were raising their grandchildren than I had in my entire career before that.” The missing generation in those families is a grim measure of how the opioid epidemic has torn through economically struggling rural counties like a tornado, breaking lives as if they were so many tree limbs [The Atlantic].

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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.

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