In The Know: Support Growing For ‘Rebalance’ Of Oklahoma’s Medicaid System

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

Support Growing, But No Republican Consensus For ‘Rebalance’ Of Oklahoma’s Medicaid System: Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, says there’s growing support in his Republican caucus for a plan to rebalance Oklahoma’s Medicaid population to trigger an infusion of federal funding. “And again, it comes down to how do we pay for our share of state dollars?” Bingman said [KGOU]. The plan to accept federal funds for health care could be a key piece to preventing a budget disaster [OK Policy].

Oklahoma nonprofit official: Medicaid cuts would reverberate across state: Cuts to Oklahoma’s Medicaid program have been made with the two revenue failures, and effective June 1, providers could be hit with a 25 percent rate cut. The depth of these cuts make it unsustainable for providers to continue the provider/state relationship in the program, which will directly impact the lives of children, the disabled and the frail elderly. In times of crisis, Oklahoma has made a statement to the nation. We live the “Oklahoma Standard.” We take care of those in need, no matter what the cause of the destruction. That standard will be noticeably missing. [Mary Brinkley / NewsOK]

New executive director named for OK Ethics Commission: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission named Ashley Kemp on Friday to take over as executive director of the panel after Lee Slater leaves the position on June 30. Kemp has been deputy director for the commission for three years and Slater recommended her as his successor. She will earn $150,000 a year. The commission is in charge of monitoring campaign finance reporting and investigating ethics complaints against public officials.  [NewsOK]

Panel to focus on ending mass incarceration in Oklahoma: A panel discussion titled “Mass Incarceration in Oklahoma: When Will It End?” is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 19 at Restoration Church at the Dome, formerly First Christian Church of Oklahoma City, 3700 N Walker. Panelists will include David Prater, Oklahoma County district attorney; the Rev. Kris Steele, former speaker of the state House of Representatives; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., senior pastor of East Sixth Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). [NewsOK]

OK’s ‘insane’ mental health system parallels education: The Oklahoman’s Graham Lee Brewer began his report on the Oklahoma Mental Health Forum with the words of OKC Police Capt. Jeff Pierce, who said, “On July 4, this country will be 240 years old. … 240 years ago, the only place we could put people with mental health issues was in jail. We’re 240 years down the road, and we’re still putting them in jail. That’s a problem.” [NonDoc]

Oklahoma City school district to cut 29 assistant principals: As many as 26 schools in the Oklahoma City district — half of them elementary schools — will lose an administrator in the coming school year, The Oklahoman has learned. The reductions, announced Thursday, will mean nine elementary schools will be without a single assistant principal to handle discipline issues, documents show. On Thursday, Superintendent Rob Neu said 92 administrative positions will be eliminated for the school year beginning July 1 to save $5.1 million. [NewsOK]

Aides, supporting positions proliferate at Oklahoma public schools: Nonteacher positions in Oklahoma public schools have grown at a faster rate than student enrollment as special education services expand, food service and transportation departments grow and changing student demographics have been met with increased hiring of social and cultural specialists. The bulk of nonteacher growth in the state has not come from superintendents or top-level administrators, but in student support positions like speech pathologists, attendance officers and reading specialists. [NewsOK]

Teacher urges parents to voice budget concerns: With growing classrooms and a reduction in resources, veteran teacher Jan McClaren is warning new teachers to leave Oklahoma. McClaren said she offers the advice because in other states teachers can make a decent living, and other states are putting money toward education, so teachers can have the items necessary in their classrooms without having to purchase the supplies out of their personal incomes. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Dozens Of Oklahoma Educators Plan To Run For Legislature: Between 30 and 40 Oklahoma educators are running for a spot at the Capitol and they’re filing at the same time next week. Judy Mullen Hopper is one of them, running for senate. She is frustrated with budget cuts on education. Mullen Hopper retired last year after 35 years. “I retired with mixed emotions. I knew I had to, just because emotionally I was drained, but I also knew that those kiddos and those parents still needed a voice for them, so here I am,” Mullen Hopper said. [News9]

The question for legislators: Would doing nothing to find revenues bring more or less political risk?: After two shortened work weeks, the legislature began its first full week of considering bills in committee that were introduced first in the opposite house. There are quite a few bills left to be heard, and bills that haven’t been passed from committee by the end of this week will be dead for this year. With eight weeks left in the session, not a lot of information is seeping out from behind closed legislative doors on the major budget issues like corrections, education, health care and DHS. [OK Policy]

Researcher finds trends in Tulsa cases of child abuse and neglect: In Oklahoma, nearly 30 percent of confirmed child abuse and neglect cases also had reports of domestic violence in the house. A mother’s history of substance abuse and an unknown father — or many father figures — ups the chance for abusing a child. Neglect is more likely in families with a disabled child who doesn’t do well in school and has an uninvolved mother. Advocates have always said these social problems are linked. Now, a University of Oklahoma researcher can say it for certain, backed by statistical data. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“In Oklahoma, 19.3 percent of the population comprises those 60-plus years of age. It is the fastest-growing segment of the population, projected to double by 2030. If we can’t afford to care for our aged now, what is our plan for the coming years? No matter how much we talk about right-sizing government, this part of the budget is going to grow. We cannot compromise the lives of those on the Medicaid program because of the downturn in the economy or our failure to address the ‘graying’ of Oklahoma.”

-Mary Brinkley, executive director of LeadingAge OK, which represents nonprofit providers of aging services (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated number of occupied housing units in Oklahoma with lead-based paint hazards.

Source: Oklahoma Housing Needs Assessment

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In the Deep South, poor students are caught in a cycle of poverty: The day of his high school graduation, like so many of the days before, began with chaos. Ruleville Central had pledged to lock its front doors an hour before the ceremony to prevent a crowd overflow, and Jadareous Davis was still at his grandmother’s home six miles up the road, time slipping away. Davis scanned through his mental checklist. Shoes? His older brother hadn’t yet swung by to drop off a pair. Bow tie? Maybe he could borrow one from a neighbor. Pants? Davis wasn’t even sure whether the dress code mandated black or brown, and he called a friend for help. [Washington Post]

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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.

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