In The Know: State Medicaid program needs additional $164 million to avoid cuts in 2016

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.

State Medicaid leaders told lawmakers in Thursday’s board meeting that they need at least $164 million in additional state dollars in the next fiscal year just to maintain the state’s existing Medicaid program. The agency plans to ask for a total additional $275 million and hopes to increase the rate it pays providers, which has been cut in recent years. The state Department of Corrections opened its renovated execution chamber to the media, and says that it is ready for November’s scheduled executions.

The Red Dirt Report wrote that state prisons’ officers say that inmates are planning coordinated riots across the state in hopes of forcing a federal takeover of the state’s overcrowded prison system. Staffing levels are too low to restore order if riots break out, according to Oklahoma Corrections Professionals. The Tulsa World’s editorial board argued that the state Department of Education still needs to meet its testing mandate this winter despite unrest over standardized testing and having no testing vendor lined up. A former member of the state Board of Education lambasted Gov. Fallin for her silence regarding the chaos over winter testing.

On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed a study showing same-sex marriage in Oklahoma will boost the state’s income tax revenue. The State of Oklahoma has confirmed that state workers can enroll a same-sex spouse in employee benefit plans. A state panel has approved a laundry list of repairs needed at the Capitol. The state Department of Human Services collected a record nearly $1 million per day in child support on behalf of Oklahoma children and families between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

Northeastern Oklahoma officials and business leaders urged the state transportation committee to fund needed repairs to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation system, and they said continuing to defer maintenance could result in shipping and transport delays.  StateImpact spoke to landowners who have successfully turned to wind farming to preserve their family farms. The Number of the Day is the number of marriage licenses issued in Oklahoma in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, a poll of low-income Southerners found that they preferred Medicaid over private health insurance.

In The News

Oklahoma Medicaid leaders say agency needs at least $164 million additional state dollars for next fiscal year

Leaders at the state’s Medicaid agency say the organization needs at least $164 million additional state dollars for the next fiscal year to maintain the existing program. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority presented its 2016 fiscal year budget request during its board meeting Thursday, outlining agency leaders’ concerns about the next budget cycle. The agency plans to request $275 million additional state dollars — $164 million of which it says it must have to maintain the program at its current level — on top of the $953 million that the authority receives in base funding.

Read more from NewsOK.

DOC shows off revamped execution chamber

A little more than $106,000 was spent to renovate the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary following the furor surrounding Clayton Lockett’s execution in April. About two dozen media members were given a tour of the renovated death chamber Thursday, about a month ahead of the first scheduled execution since Lockett was put to death. Charles Warner, who was scheduled to die the same night as Lockett but saw his execution halted while officials determined what went wrong in Lockett’s death, is set to die Nov. 13.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

TIPPING POINT: Prison riots likely any day now, warn prison and law-enforcement insiders

 For the last six months Red Dirt Report has been investigating the prison crisis, talking with officers, staff, and organizations who receive reports regarding the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Our sources confirm that coordinated statewide riots are likely any day. An officer at the Oklahoma State Reformitory, who spoke with Red Dirt Report on condition of anonymity, said inmates have told him riots are unavoidable. He said other fellow officers have also overhead inmates talking about the coming riot.

Read more from the Red Dirt Report.

State school board needs to meet testing mandate

Political and practical problems have gummed up the state’s school testing process, leaving exams necessary for some students to graduate from high school unresolved. At a fiery Sept. 25 state Board of Education meeting, the board tabled a plan by lame duck Superintendent Janet Barresi to award a contract for the winter testing period to CTB/ McGraw-Hill, a company with a troubled past administering Oklahoma tests. Subsequently, CTB/McGraw-Hill withdrew from consideration for the winter testing contract.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Where’s Mary Fallin now?

The state Board of Education is in turmoil, led by outgoing state Superintendent Janet Barresi. That ought to concern Gov. Mary Fallin, and it ought to worry the rest of us because the governor’s leadership is absent at a very important time for our schoolchildren. Yet, as best I can tell, the governor’s response to the education mess is “no comment.” Fallin stepped forward during past state Board of Education controversies involving Barresi. But, where is she now?

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Study: Same-sex marriage will boost Oklahoma income tax revenue

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Oklahoma, there’s one big question on everyone’s mind: how is it going to affect state tax revenue? Okay, maybe that’s not on everyone’s mind, but researchers at Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Western Kentucky Universities have given it a lot of thought. Their research published earlier this year in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management makes an extremely detailed examination of how same-sex marriage will affect state and federal taxes in Oklahoma and across the nation.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

State Begins Offering Benefits To Same-sex Couples

The State of Oklahoma began offering benefits to married same-sex couples Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case concerning the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban, leaving in place a lower court ruling that found it unconstitutional. Office of Management and Enterprise Services Spokesman John Estus confirmed Thursday officials began allowing married same-sex couples to enroll their spouses in the state employee benefit plan on Monday.

Read more from KGOU.

Panel approves wish list for Oklahoma state Capitol repair project

A state panel approved a series of goals for the state Capitol repair project on Thursday, ranging from fixing leaky pipes to reopening the building’s dramatic south grand entry. The State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee, which held its second meeting Thursday, was created under legislation that provides $120 million for restoration of the crumbling, nearly century-old building. The committee is composed of three gubernatorial appointees, three senators and three state representatives.Major issues to be addressed are an aging electrical service, a plumbing system in need of repair, upgrades to security and technological elements.

Read more from NewsOK.

Child support office collects nearly $1 million a day

Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Support Services (CSS) collected $362,414,921 on behalf of children and families between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, a new collections record. That is an average of $992,917.59 per day. The Child Support office serving both Sequoyah and Adair County contributed to the statewide record by collecting $5,340,574.00 during the same 12-month period Leanne K. Sloan, Assistant District Attorney, announced recently.

Read more from the Sequoyah County Times.

Funding urged for repairs to McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System

Deterioration of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System threatens commerce and the viability of the system itself, northeastern Oklahoma officials and business leaders told House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster on Tuesday. “We are starting to see reliability erode,” said Clint Herring, general manager of CF Industries’ Verdigris Nitrogen Complex. Bob Portiss, director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, said the navigation system has a $100 million maintenance backlog “that’s getting worse.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

How a Wind Farm is Helping Save the Family Farm in Western Oklahoma

In the ongoing debate about Oklahoma’s wind industry and whether it needs stricter regulation, two types of property owners have been the most vocal: those who hate the idea of turbines next door, and those eager to lease land to a wind company. But there’s a voice that’s been largely absent from the discussion so far: Landowners who have wind farms and like them.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“An officer from Crabtree said, ‘The inmates run this place now.’ He was on a floor with 350 offenders. ‘If they decide they want to take the place over, they can. It’s up to them. There’s too many of them and not enough of us.’ That’s what he thinks.”

– Sean Wallace, director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, discussing rumored coordinated riots in prisons statewide to protest poor conditions. Oklahoma has the worst offender-to-officer ratio in the country. (Source:

Number of the Day


Number of marriage licenses issued in Oklahoma in 2013. 17,227 divorce decrees were issued in the state that same year.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Health.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid, Often Criticized, Is Quite Popular With Its Customers

Low-income people in three Southern states were recently asked whether they preferred Medicaid or private insurance. Guess which one they picked? A study published in the journal Health Affairs found that poor residents of Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas, when asked to compare Medicaid with private coverage, said that Medicaid offered better “quality of health care” and made them better able to “afford the health care” they needed. Medicaid, the federal-state program for poor and disabled Americans, is a frequent political target, often described as substandard because of its restricted list of doctors and the red tape — sometimes even worse than no insurance at all.

Read more from The New York Times.

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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.

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