What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.
This Week from OK Policy
Managed care is a bad investment for Oklahoma: Following voters’ approval of Medicaid expansion during the June 30 election, Oklahoma’s next steps should be relatively simple. The state has already been providing high-quality, low-cost Medicaid for years; the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has a decades-long track record of excellence in efficiency and effectiveness. OHCA could expand Medicaid to cover more than 200,000 low-income Oklahomans for between $125 million and $164 million, all without raising taxes. Unfortunately, Gov. Stitt and OHCA CEO Kevin Corbett have unilaterally decided that after decades of proven results, Oklahoma should try something else, something that has never worked in the state, and something that, if other states’ experiences hold true here, will cost the state much more money than in-house expansion. Their proposal for managed care, though appealing in the abstract, harkens back to Oklahoma’s previous failed attempt at a similar plan. To avoid unnecessary cuts to provider rates or medical services, Oklahoma must ensure that Medicaid administration remains in the proven, capable hands of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]
Policy Matters: Focus on facts when considering SQ 805: In a country growing increasingly partisan, there are still opportunities to find common ground. In Oklahoma, this cooperation has been especially noticeable around criminal justice reform. The organizations and individuals who compose the Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform coalition – which includes the Oklahoma Policy Institute – span political ideologies. Yet, many of these groups and individuals recognize that Oklahoma’s punishment-first approach to justice isn’t working. [Ahniwake Rose / Policy Matters]
Interim studies highlight how other states passed meaningful law enforcement reform (Capitol Update): There have been multiple interim studies on law enforcement reform in the past few weeks. Two of the better efforts, primarily because they brought in “how to” information from other states, was a bi-partisan, bi-cameral study in the House last week and a Senate study on September 16. The House request was made by Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond, Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, and Sen. Kevin Matthew, D-Tulsa. The Senate request was by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat. By “how to,” I mean they heard how other states managed to pass meaningful reforms. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
Weekly What’s That
Oklahoma Health Care Authority
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is a state government agency responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program. OHCA’s mission is to “responsibly purchase state and federally-funded health care in the most efficient and comprehensive manner possible; to analyze and recommend strategies for optimizing the accessibility and quality of health care; and, to cultivate relationships to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans.”
The Director of OHCA is appointed and can be replaced by the Governor. The agency is overseen by a nine-member Board, with five appointments made by the Governor and two each by the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem. There are also several advisory board and committees that provide input to the agency.
Quote of the Week
“People are forced to choose whether to go to court to save their home, or stay at work to save their jobs.”
-Eric Hallett, an attorney with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, which provides pro bono counsel to tenants. [Tulsa World]
Editorial of the Week
COVID-19 crisis doesn’t need to push crises in evictions and homelessness
Despite concerted efforts to prevent it, Tulsa’s eviction rate is once again approaching unacceptable pre-pandemic levels.
Avenues are available to tenants who don’t want to lose their rental homes, but advocates worry that information about those options may not be getting to the people who need it.
Before the pandemic, Tulsa had the 11th highest eviction rate in the nation, averaging 1,200 cases a month. Tulsa returned to that level in September, according to data from Access to Justice.
More than one-third of all eviction cases in Tulsa this year have been filed since Aug. 25, the first day landlords could seek evictions after a months-long CARES Act moratorium on evictions from properties covered by federal funding, such as Section 8 housing.
Numbers of the Day
- 90,445 – Oklahoma’s four-week average of unemployment claims for the week ending Oct. 10.
- 14% – Percentage of households with children that lacked sufficient food in last seven days.
- 25% – Percentage of Oklahoma children who live in families that receive public assistance.
- $716,443,516.50 – Amount Oklahoma has spent of the federal funds allocated to support COVID-19-related government expenses as of Oct. 12. This represents about 56% of the $1.259 billion the State of Oklahoma received this spring as its share of the CARES Act funding.
- 17.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma residents who identify as American Indians and Alaska Natives. Oklahoma has the second highest percentage behind Alaska at 27.9%.
What We’re Reading
- Jobless Workers Built Up Some Savings. Then the $600 Checks Stopped [New York Times]
- Food Insecurity and Health: Addressing Food Needs for Medicaid Enrollees as Part of COVID-19 Response Efforts [Kaiser Family Foundation]
- TANF Benefits Still Too Low to Help Families, Especially Black Families, Avoid Increased Hardship [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
- How much is COVID-19 hurting state and local revenues? [Brookings Institute]
- Political Participation Among Indigenous People [National League of Cities]