In The Know: State leaders announce plan to expand health coverage

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

Oklahoma leaders ponder ways to stabilize state’s shaky Medicaid program: Officials unveiled on Thursday the framework of a proposal to provide subsidized medical insurance to more Oklahomans. The proposal also calls for moving thousands of people who are on Medicaid into the private market through an expansion of Insure Oklahoma. Policymakers were quick to say this is not an expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, something that has been rejected by the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez said Gov. Mary Fallin and others asked his agency to come up with proposals to help stabilize the state’s Medicaid system [Tulsa World]. This plan could be a key piece in preventing a budget disaster [OK Policy].

Oklahoma State Medical Association urges doctors to mull leaving Medicaid over 25 percent rate cut: Oklahoma State Medical Association leaders have voted unanimously to urge members to consider dropping out of Medicaid. The association’s executive committee took the unanimous vote on Wednesday following an announcement earlier in the week by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority that Medicaid rates could be cut by as much as 25 percent effective June 1 [Tulsa World]. Budget troubles are rolling back Oklahoma’s health care gains [OK Policy].

Speaker says House will not agree to education cuts exceeding 5 percent: House Speaker Jeff Hickman on Thursday said his caucus would not support fiscal year 2017 cuts to common education that are greater than 5 percent. Hickman’s comments came during a press availability period following the legislative session. Hickman, R-Fairview, said it was necessary to provide clarity to school districts for planning purposes [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma continues to lead the nation for the largest cuts to general school funding since the start of the recession [OK Policy].

Grand jury indicts Wagoner County sheriff, calls for his removal: Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert has been accused in a bribery indictment of forcing a motorist and his passenger to give up ownership of $10,000 in cash to get out of jail. The state’s multicounty grand jury indicted Colbert and Capt. Jeffrey T. Gragg on felonies. The grand jury also called for the sheriff’s immediate suspension and eventual removal from office. The indictment could reignite the often heated debate over efforts at the Legislature to radically change Oklahoma’s forfeiture procedures [NewsOK]. New Mexico stopped civil asset forfeiture abuse; Oklahoma can, too [OK Policy].

Quick Take: What’s the state of the Rainy Day Fund? In the wake of this year’s second mid-year revenue failure, Governor Fallin and legislative leaders reached an agreement to tap the Rainy Day Fund to help public schools and the Department of Corrections make it through the year. The Legislature promptly passed SB 1572, which provided $51 million to the State Department of Education, and SB 1571, which provided $27.6 million for the Department of Corrections. With the supplemental, DOC has had its funding fully restored to its initial FY 2016 levels, while common education remains $58.2 million below its initial appropriations amount [OK Policy].

Attorneys have cost Oklahoma almost $40,000 in execution inquiry: The outside attorneys involved in the state grand jury investigation of an execution drug mix-up have cost taxpayers almost $40,000 — so far. The multicounty grand jury is investigating why the wrong deadly drug was used in a Jan. 15, 2015, execution and almost used again Sept. 30. Grand jurors are meeting this week and will return April 12-14. A final report on the execution blunder could be released in April [NewsOK].

Political courage, a yellow stripe and tough policy choices: Even in years of plenty, crafting the state’s budget is typically the government equivalent of selecting a new pope. Secretive. A cadre of decision-makers, locked behind closed doors in the session’s final days. Special interest lobbyists, taxpayers and most lawmakers gathered outside, awaiting the signal an agreement is nigh. Once assembled, the spending blueprint is typically fast-tracked through both houses just before adjournment. There are plenty of signs this year could be different [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

ODOT: Study shows earthquakes below 4.6 not damaging to bridges; new protocol for inspections announced: Bridge inspections in the state are not necessary following earthquakes of magnitude 4.6 or lower after researchers determined such quakes are not likely to damage transportation infrastructure, state officials said Thursday. Officials also announced a new protocol for inspecting bridges following earthquakes of magnitude 4.7 or higher, with a wider radius of inspections proportional to the strength of the quake [Tulsa World]. 

Oklahoma reduces pollution on most acres in nation: Oklahoma has successfully treated water pollution issues on more acres than any other state according to new data collected by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Water Quality Division, which is funded by EPA. Since 2007, voluntary conservation by farmers and ranchers has resulted in 55 Oklahoma streams being removed from Oklahoma’s list of impaired water bodies [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise].

Sardis Locals Say Lake Economy Suffers As Southeast Oklahoma Water Fight Drags On: Oklahoma’s lakes drive millions of dollars of tourism to otherwise impoverished parts of the state. But the local economy around Sardis Lake is missing out because of uncertainty about the water’s future. Sardis Lake is beautiful, filling a valley surrounded by the Potato Hills on a tributary of the Kiamichi River. It’s one of the best bass fishing lakes around. But there are no bustling hotels, restaurants, or marinas on the shore [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Quote of the Day

“Here’s an idea: Be bold. Set aside concerns about political advantage or power. Do what’s right for Oklahoma. For the least among us. For our school kids and teachers. Build whatever coalitions are necessary to raise the income tax – the fairest tax of all, since it is based on ability to pay – and eliminate corporate welfare. Those willing to make the tough public policy choices – the ones that put Oklahoma’s future on solid footing – will be real heroes.”

– The Oklahoma Observer’s Arnold Hamilton, in the Journal Record (Source)

Number of the Day


Ratio of Oklahoma’s population to primary care physicians in 2013. The US median is 1,990:1.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Building Financial Security: I didn’t plan to become a financial counselor for the poor. The role grew out of a deep friendship with members of a Methodist church in a densely poor, black “ghetto” in West Philadelphia. I had spent a lot of my childhood in the home of one church member. Over the years, she and her neighbors taught me more about right from wrong than did my parents. This church served as the social glue for the community, Yet the minister could do no more than watch helplessly as predators, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, roamed the neighborhood selling destructive financial products that stripped the meager wealth of the neighborhood’s families [Washington Monthly].

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


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

Leave a Reply

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