The Weekly Wonk: ‘Valuing Work’ in Oklahoma; Governor’s health care proposal; and more

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

OK Policy released a statement Friday following the announcement that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority submitted Gov. Stitt’s Medicaid expansion proposal to federal officials: “We are disappointed to hear that the Governor continues to push his personal plan for Oklahoma healthcare versus the vetted, proven, and citizen-backed strategy of full Medicaid expansion.” Read full statement.

Economic Opportunity Analyst Courtney Cullison authored OK Policy’s latest paper, “Valuing Work,” which examines how well Oklahoma employers value their workers. It’s the second installment in a three-part series that sheds light on those Oklahomans who have been left behind by the economic recovery. Executive Director Ahniwake Rose, in her weekly Journal Record column, noted that business leaders say Oklahoma is a good place to raise a family because of good jobs, low taxes, and an affordable living. Without much digging, though, she says you will find that story holds true for far too few Oklahomans. 

Budget and Tax Analyst Paul Shinn wrote about how Medicaid expansion can benefit Oklahomans between the ages of 45 and 65. Recent research suggests expansion also will improve insurance coverage, care, and save lives of those who aren’t yet old enough to qualify for Medicare. 

In collaboration with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and with data provided by the state’s five major retirement systems, OK Policy has developed interactive maps that show the economic impact retired public employees have in Oklahoma.

Education Analyst and KIDS COUNT Coordinator Rebecca Fine participated in the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center Podcast to discuss Oklahoma’s active education bills in the current legislative session. In his Capitol Update column, Steve Lewis wrote that the proposed consolidation of state health agencies deserves careful planning and consideration.

OK Policy in the News

Volunteers with Together Oklahoma, OK Policy’s grassroots advocacy program, delivered a petition to the Governor’s office on Wednesday calling for him to set an election date for SQ 802. The “Medicaid Day of Action” event was featured in coverage from the Tulsa World, News9, KFOR, Fox25, KOCO, the Journal Record, and Public Radio Tulsa

OK Policy Employment Opportunities

OK Policy is hiring for two new positions – a Storybanker and an Administrative Assistant. 

Weekly What’s That

JCAB, what’s that?

The Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) is a committee governed by separate rules from most legislative committees. It is typically used as a way for House and Senate leadership to introduce and approve new bills in the final weeks of the legislative session.

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

Quote of the Week

“Ultimately, funding Medicaid expansion must protect Oklahoma rural hospitals that are already cash-strapped. We do not want to put a disproportionate burden on vulnerable rural hospitals.”

– Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis speaking about a proposal to fund the Governor’s Medicaid alternative plan through an increase in hospital fees. [The Journal Record].

Editorial of the Week

Editorial: Black History Month went poorly in Oklahoma

While the actions of Oklahoma education-establishment figures who swallowed their own feet this Black History Month are disappointing, their mistakes must be a reminder of the work left to do in rooting out racism — work that is the duty of white people as much as (if not more than) anyone.

Oklahoma failed a test it didn’t even know it was taking this Black History Month. Much as education institutions would encourage their students to do, we should be reflective instead of defensive. For the next 11 months, we must admit our shortcomings, focus on the difficult task of remediation and prepare to be allies for an Oklahoma worth imagining.


Numbers of the Day

  • 62% – Amount by which the likelihood of a rural hospital closing decreases if that hospital is in a Medicaid expansion state
  • 313,000 – Signatures submitted in support of SQ 802, which calls for full Medicaid expansion
  • 476 – Older Oklahomans whose deaths may have been prevented by expanding Medicaid in the state
  • $8.6 billion – Additional funding which would be available to Oklahoma over the next decade to fund services if the state fully expanded Medicaid
  • 17 – Oklahoma rural hospitals at risk of closing

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

Note: Throughout the week, we highlighted policy notes and numbers about the need for full Medicaid expansion, which was identified as one of OK Policy’s Legislative focus areas during this session. Here is an issue summary (PDF), as well as additional resources on the issue. Learn more about other OK Policy 2020 Legislative focus areas. 


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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