The Weekly Wonk: Who’s affected by Medicaid restrictions; a frank conversation on criminal justice…

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’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

This week at OK Policy, we released a report with the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families which found that Oklahoma’s proposed work rule would harm mothers and children, especially in small town and rural Oklahoma. In a guest post, regional director of government affairs for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Dana Bacon expressed his concerns with the Medicaid reporting requirement and warned that the state hasn’t said how many people would become uninsured

Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison explained the SNAP error rate and why the increase in payment error should not be used as an excuse to cut or dismantle the program. For episode 35 of the OKPolicyCast, we featured one of the most popular panels at the Summer Policy Institute: a frank conversation on criminal justice between D’Marria Monday, Jill Webb, Erik Grayless, and Kris Steele. 

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed out that despite all the positive headlines, the economic boom is not making it to workers’ paychecks. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed State Question 801, which would give schools more flexibility, but no new funding sources.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke with Public Radio Tulsa, AP News, MedPageToday and others on the release of a report with the Georgetown University Center for Children that found that Oklahoma’s proposed Medicaid work requirements would mostly affect the poorest mothers. Putnam also spoke with Public Radio Tulsa about Oklahoma ranking as the seventh-worst state for health care.

Blatt spoke with the Tulsa World on questionable assumptions in the report released by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services regarding the averted costs due to criminal justice reforms approved in a vote of the people in 2016. Arnold Hamilton later referred to this in his weekly Journal Record column.

The Tulsa World shared the news about OK Policy’s upcoming 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner on September 13. More information and tickets are available here.

Upcoming Opportunities

Monday, August 13th: In response to the critical needs in Oklahoma’s mental health care and addiction services, we’re hiring a Mental Health Policy Analyst/Fellowship Coordinator and two Mental Health Policy Fellows. Tomorrow is the deadline to apply for all three mental health positions. 

Wednesday, August 22nd: It’s never to early to start making your voting plan. If you would like to request an absentee ballot for the August 28 runoffs, make sure to do so by Wednesday, August 28 at 5 P.M. For more election dates and deadline, visit our 2018 Oklahoma Election and State Questions page. 

Thursday, September 13th: We hope you will join us as we celebrate our first decade of advancing policy change benefiting Oklahomans through research, education, and advocacy. The event will honor Sandy Garrett and Kris Steele with OK Policy’s Good Sense/Good Cents Award and will feature a keynote talk by Ian Frazier, the award-winning humorist and feature writer for The New Yorker magazine. Learn more about our 10th Anniversary Gala dinner here. 

Weekly What’s That

Health Care Enhancement Fund, What’s That?

The Health Care Enhancement Fund was created by HB 1016xx in the 2017-18 second special session. Beginning July 1, 2019, all revenues from the $1 per-pack increase in the cigarette tax passed under HB 1010xx will be deposited in the Health Care Enhancement Fund for the purpose of enhancing the health of Oklahomans. Prior to that date, revenues from the cigarette tax increase will go to the General Revenue Fund.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“She’s stuck in a position where if she says OK to that extra shift, even if she only works 86 hours that month, then she’s going to be considered too wealthy and would lose her health care coverage.”

-Variety Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nathan Valentine, speaking about the Catch-22 created by Oklahoma stingy Medicaid income eligibility and the proposal to kick parents off the program if they don’t meet strict job and reporting requirements [Public Radio Tulsa]

Editorial of the Week

Ginnie Graham: Public schools still far from fully funded

Past voting records guide voters on incumbents. Challengers need to answer how they would have voted on past education legislation and their views on vouchers, charter schools and state-mandated tests. And, the answer is not simply auditing districts because that is already being done. “In my view, I don’t care if you are a Republican, Democrat, independent or Libertarian,” Morejon said. “We need to vote in pro-education candidates and people dedicated to fixing the problems we have. Even with the bill that passed, there is still a lot of needs to be met.” [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 13.3% – Percentage of Oklahomans age 15 and over who are divorced and not now remarried.
  • -0.1% – Change in real average hourly wages for Oklahoma workers from June 2017 to June 2018.
  • $19,960 – Average annual income of child care workers in Oklahoma.
  • 26.6% – Percentage of Oklahoma prison inmates who were incarcerated in private prisons in 2016.
  • 78% – Percentage of SoonerCare recipients who could lose health coverage under Oklahoma’s proposed job and reporting requirements who are mothers of dependent children.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The downsides of property tax caps. [Governing]
  • Most workers in low-wage labor market work substantial hours, in volatile jobs. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • The social determinants speak: Medicaid work requirements will worsen health. [Health Affairs]
  • ‘I don’t feel that I’m any safer’: Juror speaks out against 40-year sentence for drug dealer he helped convict. [Washington Post]
  • As states legalize sports gambling, convenience and tax rates are key. [RouteFifty]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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