The Weekly Wonk: Thinking the unthinkable, private charity and the public safety net, and more…

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 on the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that the budget crisis has lawmakers thinking the unthinkable with regard to health care cuts. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam detailed how a push to privatize care for Oklahomans on Medicaid who are aged, blind, or have a disability could put their health at risk. OK Policy Intern Amanda Rightler shared new data showing that Oklahoma’s uninsured rate for Hispanic children has significantly improved. 

Blatt’s Journal Record column asked whether Oklahoma should tax more services. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis described the three factions battling over Oklahoma education policy. A guest post on the OK Policy blog from Chris Moore of Fellowship Congregational United Church of Christ explained why private charity is no replacement for the public safety net. OK Policy Board member Don Millican wrote in support of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, of which OK Policy is a partner, in the Tulsa World. You can learn more about Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform here.

OK Policy in the News

KFOR cited OK Policy data in a story on legislation that would have created a new type of predatory loan. Following outcry, the bill’s author later announced he would not support it. The Tulsa World used OK Policy data on ad valorum taxes in a piece on the Cushing Interchange.

Weekly What’s That

Ad Valorum Tax (Property Tax)

Property tax, also known as ad valorem tax, is an annual tax paid by property owners to local government. Property tax collections in Oklahoma totaled $2.2 billion in 2011 and are the single largest source of local government revenue. Oklahoma’s per person property taxes are among the lowest in the nation and less than half the national average. Read more.

Quote of the Week

“There is not a public consensus to expand options in this industry, [and] passage of SB 1314 would be unlikely. I have appreciated the feedback.”

– Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) in a post on Twitter explaining why he will not be advancing his bill that would have created a new type of dangerous high-cost loan (Source)

Editorial of the Week

William W. Savage III, NonDoc

So it’s an embarrassing display for The Oklahoman’s editorial board to say hospitals are “in precarious financial positions” owing to “low” Medicaid reimbursements without noting that hospitals treat hundreds of thousands of uninsured patients annually — for whom they often receive no reimbursement beyond “loss” write-offs. Many of those patients, of course, would be covered under Medicaid expansion.

Ironically, if The Oklahoman wanted to make legitimate criticisms of Medicaid, Medicare, hospitals or the U.S. health care system as a whole, there’s plenty of red meat on that bone.

For instance, as we’re discussing debridements, why are there so many different codes (paying different amounts) for these types of procedures? Why are physicians and hospital billing departments having to figure out whether a debridement was exclusional, selective or non-selective? Why are different values reimbursed for different depths of debridement? Why do some sets of debridement codes reimburse different amounts than others? Why do some reimburse the same? Why is this all so complicated?

Those are the questions about which an informed editorial board should be writing. Those are the critiques that a system as complex as U.S. health care reimbursement demands.

But to sit around and write political fantasies wherein struggling rural hospitals are harmed more by Medicaid patients than by uninsured patients — who would have coverage if they lived in other states — is asinine, disingenuous and lazy.

Numbers of the Day

  • 3% – Percentage change in full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment in public higher education institutions in Oklahoma, Fall 2003 to Fall 2013. The 3 percent increase was third smallest in the nation and well below the national average of 16%
  • 1,852 – Number of local governments – including town, school districts, fire protection districts, public library systems, and more – in Oklahoma in 2012, 19th in the US
  • 56.8% – Percentage of Oklahoma adults in 2015 who reported visiting a dental health professional within the last 12 months, 48th in the United States
  • 73.3% – Percentage of children in Oklahoma aged 19 to 35 months who received seven recommended vaccines in 2015
  • $2,882.6 million – Net farm income in Oklahoma in 2014

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

Leave a Reply

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