The Weekly Wonk: Oklahomans decide SQ 802 on Tuesday | Information, resources and analysis

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

SQ 802 Reports and Analysis:

Additional OK Policy Publications and Analysis:

Weekly What’s That

Medicaid expansion

One of the primary provisions of the Affordable Care Act gives states the options to expand their Medicaid eligibility to include people below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,735 per year for one person or $34,638 for a family of four). The costs of expansion were paid for in full by the federal government through 2016, before dropping down (and freezing at) 90 percent in 2020, well above the typical federal match.

As of March 2019, 37 states, including Washington D.C., have expanded Medicaid. Oklahoma has opted not to, leaving billions in federal funding on the table, and more than 100,000 Oklahomans in a ‘coverage crater’ (too low-income to qualify for subsidies on the health insurance marketplace, too wealthy or not a member of a population group that is eligible to qualify for traditional Medicaid in Oklahoma).

An initiative petition to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma, State Question 802, was launched in 2019 and gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in 2020.

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

Quote of the Week

“Business leaders in Tulsa agree that Medicaid expansion … is of critical importance to our future.”

–Tulsa Regional Chamber Chairman Roger Ramseyer, vice president and Tulsa market leader for Cox Communications, in announcing the chamber’s support for SQ 802, which would give expanded Medicaid health coverage to working poor adults and help secure financially strapped health providers. [Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

COVID-19 changes almost everything, but it doesn’t change the importance of voting

This week’s election will surely go down as one of the oddest in state history. The COVID-19 pandemic changes almost everything, and nothing more than the process of representative democracy…

We predict confusion. Some voters won’t know where to vote. Some substitute polling workers won’t know how to do the job. Anti-COVID-19 processes will probably slow down even the most efficient polling places. Democracy is often messy, but Oklahomans deserve better.

One thing coronavirus doesn’t change is the importance of voting.

[Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 1 in 4 – Uninsured Black adults fall into the coverage gap, compared to 11% of White uninsured adults and 7% of Hispanic uninsured adults. This reflects the fact that a large share of uninsured Black adults resides in the southern region of the country where most states have not adopted the expansion. In contrast, Hispanics are less likely to fall into the gap since several key states that have large numbers of uninsured Hispanics have adopted the expansion, including California, New York, and Arizona.
  • #2.3 billion – Amount of new economic activity expected to be generated in Oklahoma if it fully expands Medicaid. 
  • 34% – Percentage nationwide of uninsured Black adults in the coverage gap who would be newly eligible for health care if all states expanded Medicaid. The share among other races is 28% for people of color, 25% for Hispanics, and 23% for whites. 
  • 38% – Percentage of Medicaid workers nationwide who are employed in firms with fewer than 50 employees, which are not subject to ACA penalties for not offering affordable health coverage. Industries and occupations with the largest number of workers covered by Medicaid often include jobs that are physically demanding such as food service or construction.
  • 42% – Percentage of LGBTQ youth who say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBTQ people.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Inequities Amplified By COVID-19: Opportunities For Medicaid To Address Health Disparities [Health Affairs]
  • Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma: Creating jobs, helping the state budget, and protecting families [Families USA]
  • The impact of the coverage gap for adults in states not expanding Medicaid by race and ethnicity [Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • The Implications of Medicaid Expansion in the Remaining States: 2020 Update [Urban Institute]
  • Two Spirits, One Heart, Five Genders [Indian Country Today] Note: June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, which is celebrated each June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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