Weekly Wonk: Medicaid expansion improved health care for Indigenous Oklahomans | First bills filed for 2023 | 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

Medicaid expansion improved access to care for Indigenous Oklahomans: Leading up to when Oklahoma expanded Medicaid coverage, Oklahoma had a large uninsured population of American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). But as a consequence of Medicaid expansion and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s (OHCA) inclusion of — and consultation with — Tribes, Oklahoma’s AI/AN uninsured rate has significantly declined, according to estimates from the Oklahoma Policy Institute. The relationship between OHCA and tribal governments emphasizes the importance of tribes’ health care needs and input. It also represents a crucial feature of the state agency that has helped facilitate tribal-federal-state government collaboration in providing access to health care and specialty care in Oklahoma. [Vivian Morris / OK Policy]

A look at first bills filed for 2023 session (Capitol Update): With the desk now open for prefiling bills for the upcoming session, it’s interesting to see what legislators have on their mind. Sometimes the bills are on hot-button issues. Others are filed to get attention that the bill would not get if filed among the rush of filings at deadline, perhaps to gain support. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Policy Matters: December a key month for state’s nonprofits: The majority of charitable giving comes during December, which should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with nonprofits. That’s because end-of-year giving in December represents about $1 in every $5 that nonprofits receive throughout the year. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

OK Policy in the News

Watch: Oklahoma Eviction Rates At All-Time High: In Oklahoma County, there has been a 138 percent increase in eviction fillings and a 275 percent increase for judgments since the eviction moratorium ended. Oklahoma County saw 1,799 more filings through July of this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to Oklahoma Policy Institute. [News 9]

Upcoming Opportunities

  • Tuesday, Dec. 6: Together Oklahoma Comanche County Community Meeting. The meeting will focus on housing, resources, and being a neighborhood advocate. The meeting will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in Room CETES 207 at Cameron University, 2800 W. Gore Blvd. in Lawton. A virtual option is available via Zoom. | More info

  • Thursday, Dec. 8: Together Oklahoma Creek County Community Meeting. The meeting will focus on the state of health care in Oklahoma, and feature special guest Sapulpa’s Vice Mayor Carla Gunn. The meeting will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at Bartlett-Carnegie Sapulpa Public Library, 27 W Dewey Ave. A virtual option is available via Zoom. | More info

Weekly What’s That

Child Tax/Child Care Tax Credit

The Child Tax/Child Care Tax Credit is an Oklahoma tax credit that can be claimed by parents of dependent children. Taxpayers can claim the greater of five percent of the federal Child Tax Credit or twenty percent of the federal Child Care Tax Credit. In both cases, federal adjusted gross income cannot exceed $100,000 for married couples filing jointly. 

Until 2021 and then again beginning in 2022, the federal child tax credit provides a credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17. If the credit exceeds taxes owed, families can receive up to $1,400 per child as a refund. Other dependents—including children ages 17–18 and full-time college students ages 19–24— can receive a nonrefundable credit of up to $500 each. Under the American Rescue Plan Act (2021), the credit was increased to $3,600 for children under age 6 and to $3,000 for children age 6-17. The credit was made fully refundable and most families received a monthly payment of $250 or $300 per child . The Rescue Plan Act’s increase in the maximum credit amount began to phase out for higher-income families. These expansions in the credit expired at the end of 2021 after Congress failed to renew it.

For Fiscal Year 2022, the credit was claimed on 359,387 Oklahoma tax returns for a total amount of $37.2 million, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s Tax Expenditure Report.

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

Quote of the Week

“As difficult as it is, I think it’s important to have a conversation during the panel about the federal government’s role in Native language loss during the boarding school era and other anti-Indian policies put in place decades ago. I do appreciate the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and Department of the Interior wanting to collaborate with tribal leaders and make decisions on ways they can help save our languages today.”

– Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., who is serving as a panelist for a Native Languages and Education panel in Washington this Wednesday. [Journal Record]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World Editorial: Corporation Commission must scrutinize every dollar requested 

The latest rate increase request from Public Service Company of Oklahoma has consumers wondering when the financial hits will end.

The proposed hike comes as part of a rate review. If approved, the raise of about $14 a month on average would be the third increase for PSO in the past year. The utility has about 560,000 customers. Its other two increases were for temporary cost recoveries. Pending is an earlier plan to buy three new wind farms and three new solar facilities to diversify power sources and save money long-term; it would raise bills an average of $3.48 a month by the end of 2025.

PSO isn’t alone.

Oklahoma Natural Gas used a securitization measure in January to pay costs from a February 2021 winter storm over 25 years, raising gas bills an average of $8 to $10 a month for about 880,000 consumers during that quarter of a century. In addition, ONG requested a rate increase in April that would increase bills an average of $2 a month.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric raised rates in July by an average of $2 a month. It also added a monthly charge of about $3 a month to pay off the February 2021 winter storm costs. The company serves about 870,000 consumers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas. It has a pending fuel adjustment, but two of the three corporation commissioners have notified the Legislature that they are at an impasse.

Taken together, it seems utility companies are constantly asking the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for more.

The Corporation Commission is tasked with representing consumers by regulating some public utilities along with oil and gas drilling. Its three elected members are a stopgap between consumers and the companies.

There is a balance to strike. The public utilities must make infrastructure improvements and diversify energy sources to protect against future climate changes. The cost of natural gas has jumped by 85% in a year and nearly 300% in two years.

At the same time, consumers are bearing a lot of economic stress. Prices are rising on everything from food to housing to energy. If power and utilities rise too much, consumers won’t be able to keep up.

We encourage the Corporation Commission members to scrutinize every dollar being requested to ensure that the requests are necessary and meet the legal standard of being “fair, equitable and in the public interest.”

We want to avoid disasters like a weakening infrastructure during a storm or excessive heat. We need protections against spikes in energy costs.

The answer is not deregulation. The biggest example of a failed deregulated system is in Texas, where the February 2021 winter storm left 10 million people without power and with exorbitant bills, reaching into the thousands of dollars. Several studies show residential costs for deregulated consumers tend to be higher.

Instead, we prefer that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission hone in on the details to determine the best course of action. We expect them to be transparent and have consumers as their priority.

The utilities also must realize the burden they are placing on consumers, many of whom are facing financial pressure. They need to find payment options and bolster assistance programs to help those in need.

[Tulsa World Editorial]

Numbers of the Day

  • 19,086 – Number of Oklahoma workers in domestic occupations, including home health care, child care, and house cleaning. [Economic Policy Institute]
  • 80% – Of the 9 million arrests made each year in the United States, 80% are for low-level offenses while only 5% are for serious violent crimes. [Vera Institute of Justice]
  • 1 in 3 – More than 1 in 3 children living in rural Oklahoma (34%) didn’t qualify for the full federal Child Tax Credit because their family earnings were too low or the adults were out of work that year. [CBPP]
  • 11.9% – Percentage of live births in Oklahoma born premature, which is higher than the national premature birth rate of 10.5%. [Oklahoma Report Card, March of Dimes]
  • 25.3% – The uninsured rate of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Oklahoma in 2021 after implementation of Medicaid expansion. This was down from the 202 uninsured rate of 39.7%. [KFF]

What We’re Reading

  • Domestic workers chartbook 2022: The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the ways in which care work is undervalued—and that this workforce is underprotected. As a front-facing industry that requires high levels of personal contact, this industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic in 2020. Despite the impact of the pandemic on this workforce, many domestic workers were excluded from federal COVID-19 relief. At the same time, many domestic workers who were on the front lines of the pandemic, caring for the sick and keeping homes clean, lacked the protective equipment they needed. [Economic Policy Institute]
  • The Social Costs of Policing: When measuring the effect that policing has on public safety, we must include the social costs of policing that make communities less healthy and prosperous. These social costs include damage to the health of individuals and communities, suppression of educational achievement, harm to economic security, and reductions in civic participation and community engagement. [Vera Institute of Justice]
  • Child Tax Credit Expansion Is Especially Important to Rural Families: Under current law, an estimated 3 million children living in rural areas are left out of the full $2,000 Child Tax Credit because their families’ incomes are too low. Rural communities would benefit disproportionately from an expansion that makes the credit fully available to children in families with low incomes who currently receive less than the full amount or no credit at all. This crucial investment in children living in rural areas, which includes children of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, should be a bipartisan priority during year-end tax negotiations. [CBPP]
  • 2022 March of Dimes Report Card: This year’s Report Card offers a comprehensive overview of the health of moms and babies across the U.S. The report grades the U.S., states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and 100 cities on preterm birth rates, and includes other information such as infant death, states’ efforts on Medicaid expansion and extension, low-risk Cesarean birth, inadequate prenatal care, among other factors and outlines important policy solutions that can make a difference. [March of Dimes] | [Oklahoma Report Card]
  • Health and Health Care for Indigenous People: The U.S. has a responsibility to provide certain rights, protections, and services to AIAN people, including health care. However, the Indian Health Service has historically been underfunded to meet the health care needs of AIAN people and they face other social and economic challenges that contribute to poor health outcomes. [KFF]


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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