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
How the sausage gets made: Comparing today’s state budget process to previous process (Capitol Update): An interesting thing about service in the legislature is that when most members get elected and take their seat, they think the process they inherit is the way it has always been. They accept it as the way things are done. JCAB was only created about 10 or 12 years ago, but probably most members today assume that’s just the way it’s done. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
OK Wellness Watch
October 25, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Join us for the OK Wellness Watch — a two-hour virtual event highlighting the importance of renewing eligibility for Medicaid (known as SoonerCare in Oklahoma).
As the federal public health emergency comes to an end, thousands of Oklahoma families and individuals are at risk of losing their health care coverage. This program will provide information about maintaining SoonerCare coverage and how to get health insurance through the federal Marketplace if you are no longer eligible.
The informative and fun 2-hour event will include live conversations with representatives from organizations across the state who will be providing renewal assistance during and after the broadcast, a discussion with health care providers, and great give-a-ways to lucky viewers!
Watch via YouTube on Wednesday afternoon.
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 2022, the Medicaid program served just under 1.3 million individuals at some point over the course of the year, a significant (25 percent) increase compared to FY 2021 due primarily to the voter’s approval of Medicaid expansion that took effect in June 2021. As of August 2023, SoonerCare’s total monthly enrollment was 1,353,296 people. Of these, just over half (51percent) were low-income children 18 years and under.
Oklahoma’s total Medicaid spending was $7.82 billion in FY 2022, with the federal government accounting for $5.98 billion (76.5 percent) of that amount. The federal matching rate (FMAP) for most expenses was 79.5 percent in FY 2022.
Quote of the Week
“We know that if we give them the right amount of treatment and accountability, they can get better and avoid a prison sentence.”
-Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Stoner, speaking about the county’s drug court program that allows non-violent, justice-involved people a chance to avoid prison. They are connected with resources and treatment and if they complete the program, their charges are dismissed. [KOCO]
Editorial of the Week
Tulsa World Editorial: Tulsa has a chance to transform brain health for kids
The growing urgency in unmet mental health care among Tulsa’s youth got a much-needed boost from $16 million in federal grants and private contributions. It ought to be the start of serious investment and transformation in how brain health services are administered to children and teens.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded $9 million to Tulsa Public Schools and $4 million to the City of Tulsa, matched by $3 million in private funds, according to a story from Tulsa World reporter Kevin Canfield. All are to be targeted to improving youth brain health.
Even before the pandemic, Tulsa youth were struggling in brain health disorders.
In 2018, a 91-page, comprehensive study of the region’s mental health care delivery system featured alarming findings. That included TPS staff coming across a suicide note nearly once a day from elementary or middle school students. By age 19, 1 in 6 Oklahoma children experience at least four adverse childhood experiences such as witnessing domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness in the household; loss of a family member due to incarceration, separation or divorce; or being a victim of abuse and neglect.
These problems only deepened after the world was gripped by the deadly COVID-19 virus. The stressors adults faced during that time were also felt by children. Thousands of Oklahoma’s youth experienced the death or severe sickness of a loved one, financial insecurity, hunger, isolation and/or inconsistent education.
Numbers of the Day
- 30,659 – Estimated number of Oklahoma children who could lose child care as the result of the ending of federal child care subsidies. [The Century Foundation]
- 7x – Individuals who participated in prison-based treatment followed by a community-based program post-incarceration were 7 times more likely to be drug free and 3 times less likely to be arrested for criminal behavior than those not receiving treatment. [Stanford University Network on Addiction Policy]
- 65% – Percentage of Americans who say they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics. [Pew Research]
- 555 – Oklahoma’s incarceration rate per 100,000 residents in 2021, which was the nation’s fourth highest rate. [Prison Policy Initiative]
- 29% – Percentage of children under age 18 in Oklahoma families who received Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash public assistance income, or Food Stamps/SNAP in the previous 12 months. [Annie E. Casey Foundation]
What We’re Reading
- Four tax credits that states can adopt to ease the child care crisis: With the end of federal child care subsidies, states are scrambling for ways to keep the industry afloat and parents working. Sept. 30 marked the end of the federal fiscal year and of $24 billion in pandemic child care relief, heightening concerns about the future of an industry that has been struggling to stay afloat. [Route Fifty]
- Strengthening the Foundation: A Look at Past, Present, and Future Research for Adult Drug Courts: This research brief provides a snapshot of the existing evidence base behind the adult drug court model, while also identifying potential areas of interest to seed the next generation of drug court research. Our findings document the data-driven successes of the drug court model, the evidence-based mechanisms that are associated with positive participant outcomes, and lastly, our recommendations for future research. [Center for Justice Innovation]
- Americans’ Dismal Views of the Nation’s Politics: Americans have long been critical of politicians and skeptical of the federal government. But today, Americans’ views of politics and elected officials are unrelentingly negative, with little hope of improvement on the horizon. [Pew Research]
- Collateral Consequences: Unemployment, homelessness, and educational opportunities among formerly incarcerated people: The negative consequences of incarceration continue long after a person leaves the prison walls. In a first-of-its-kind series of reports, we look at how formerly incarcerated people struggle to access basic needs — jobs, housing, and educational opportunities — when they are released. [Prison Policy Initiative]
- The Return on Investing in Children: The federal government invests more than $500 billion annually in children through direct cash payments, including tax credits, and in-kind goods such as childcare, education, food subsidies, and healthcare coverage. This represents about 10 percent of the federal budget. Research shows these investments, which are often used to combat poverty, can have large short- and long-term payoffs for the children receiving the benefits and society at large. [Tax Policy Center]