The Weekly Wonk: Senate Republican health plan would decrease coverage, increase cost of health insurance

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

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam broke down the Senate Republican health care plan – it would lead to many Oklahomans paying more for less coverage. Policy Director Gene Perry pointed out in his Journal Record Column that this plan (the Better Care Reconciliation Plan) breaks many of the campaign promises Republicans made to voters.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler argued that tough-on-crime policies don’t actually do much to reduce crime – especially drug crime. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discusses the Republican gubernatorial candidates that will be competing for the “no-tax voters” next year.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy’s research was referenced by Huffington Post Stateline in their piece about the difficulty states are having in attempts to impose sales taxes on services. Gentzler contributed to an Oklahoma Watch article about the difficulty of reforming the criminal justice system in Oklahoma.

Weekly What’s That

Interim Study

Interim studies are studies of legislative and policy issues that may be requested by any member of the House or Senate. They often address issues that have been the subject of legislation that failed to pass in previous sessions, or that are deemed worthy of more in-depth consideration. Interim studies are typically held from September to November and usually meet at the State Capitol.

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

Quote of the Week

“These numbers should be alarming to all Oklahomans and serve as a reminder to the Oklahoma Legislature to adequately fund the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.”

-Chuck Mai, vice president of Oklahoma AAA, on a report that showed that the state’s rural roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation. According to the report, 16 percent of Oklahoma’s rural bridges are structurally deficient (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Dr. Steve Turner, Tulsa World

Let’s fast-forward for a moment to a possible future and imagine a commencement speech at a high school graduation ceremony for a child born this year. “To the parents of students of the Class of 2035, please accept the sincere apologies of the state of Oklahoma. It is clear that the four-day school week has not worked well. And neither did the elimination of pre-K, school lunches, extra-curricular activities, after-school programs, special needs, gifted, AP, concurrent and other programs. To the graduates who are qualified and wanted to earn a college degree in their home state — sorry about that. With the elimination of some of our colleges and universities across Oklahoma, access to a college education just isn’t what it used to be.”

Numbers of the Day

  • 11,837.5 – Number of jail admissions per 100,000 Oklahoma residents in 2014, more than twice the national average (5,340.6)
  • 76 – Number of lynchings reported in Oklahoma between 1877 and 1950.
  • 38% – Percentage of children living in Oklahoma metro areas insured by Medicaid, 2014-2015
  • 17,458 – Number of people sentenced to prison in Oklahoma for simple drug possession between 2005 and 2015, nearly 18 percent of all prison receptions over this decade.
  • 47% – Percent of Oklahoma’s nonelderly population who live in rural areas (2015), 13th highest among all 50 states.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • These are the people who suffered when Kansas’s conservative experiment failed [Washington Post]
  • How the U.S. military turned into a model for universal childcare [Think Progress]
  • How the Senate’s Health-Care Bill Threatens the Nation’s Health [The New Yorker]
  • The Car Was Repossessed, but the Debt Remains [The New York Times]
  • Kansas’s conservative experiment may have gone worse than people thought [Washington Post]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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