The Weekly Wonk: The business case for Medicaid expansion; the rift between lawmakers, Gov.

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

Policy Matters: The business case for Medicaid expansion: Absent a post-session change of heart, it appears Gov. Kevin Stitt’s health care proposal – which was supposed to start July 1 – will be delayed or maybe even withdrawn due to a lack of agreement on how to fund it. There could not be a worse time for tens of thousands of newly unemployed Oklahomans to be without health care coverage. This leaves State Question 802 as the only path for many Oklahomans to gain access to much-needed health insurance. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Examining the rift between legislators, Governor: It looks like a lot of work will need to be done if the relationship between the Legislature and Gov. Stitt is to be repaired. What began as a lovefest in 2019 deteriorated to a slugfest by the closing days of the 2020 Legislative session. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Weekly What’s That


Medicaid is a public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. The program, which was created by Congress in 1965 as Title XIX of the Social Security Act, is operated by the states and funded jointly by the federal government and the states.

In Oklahoma, the Medicaid program is known as SoonerCare and is operated primarily by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. In FY 2018, the Medicaid program served more than 1 million individuals at some point over the course of the year. As of October 2019, SoonerCare’s total monthly enrollment was 787,235 people. Of these, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) were low-income children under the age of 21. The next largest category (20 percent) were Aged, Blind and Disabled individuals, followed by low-income working-age adults (9 percent).

Oklahoma’s total Medicaid spending was $5.25 billion in FY 2018, with the federal government accounting for $3.05 billion of that amount. The federal matching rate (FMAP) for most expenses was 59.9 percent.

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

Quote of the Week

“We don’t know if social distancing will be required in the fall, but what we have to do now is be prepared for those scenarios while we have this gift of time to prepare. It’s really a time that we can’t underscore enough the significance of the learning loss that has occurred.”

-Superintendent Joy Hofmeister speaking about school plans for the fall semester [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Judges shoulder burden of avoiding mass evictions

As landlords and tenants begin showing up when the small claims dockets are called in courtrooms across Oklahoma, we pray the judges presiding over a backlog of 2,300 eviction cases will be judicious in their decisions. 

With a statewide unemployment rate of 13.7% in April and initial claims of newly jobless Oklahomans continuing to mount by the tens of thousands each week, removing families from their homes en masse would be a mistake. Crowding people into homes with members of their extended family or shelters accelerates the risks of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases as a sputtering economy tries to get traction.

The $2.2 trillion economic stabilization package approved by Congress protects some tenants against evictions — the CARES Act prohibits the filing of new cases against tenants who live in federally financed or subsidized housing until July 24. States and local governments have provided some protection, but that varies by location, leaving renters at the courts’ mercy.   

[Muskogee Phoenix]

Numbers of the Day

  • 61% – Percentage of Latino Americans who said in April that they or someone in their household had experienced a job or wage loss due to the coronavirus outbreak, compared with 44% for Black Americans and 38% of White adults. [Pew Research Center
  • 100,000 – Estimated number of Oklahoma school children who lack home internet access [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • *3* – The number of medical marijuana patient licenses approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority as of May 1, 2020 [Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority]
  • 53.7% – Percentage of Oklahomans who have completed their 2020 Census as of May 24, 2020, which lags the national average of 60.1%. [U.S. Census Bureau]

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Three principles for an anti-racist, equitable state response to COVID-19 — and a stronger recovery [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
  • America’s next crisis is already here. State and local governments are being hit hard by the pandemic [The Atlantic]
  • Another $15 billion for food stamps, but poor households find groceries out of reach [Pittsburg Post-Gazette]
  • The other COVID-19 risk factors: How race, income, ZIP code can influence life and death [USA Today]


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.