Oklahoma Watch
Monday, June 28, 2021
Capitol Watch

The Long, Winding Road For Medicaid Expansion to Come to Oklahoma

Lawn signs promoting State Question 802, shown here in this file photo, were part of the campaign to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma. (Supriya Sridhar/Oklahoma Watch)

By Trevor Brown | Capitol/Investigative Reporter

I’m not sure how many articles I’ve written about the prospects for Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma , but I’d wager it’s one of the top subjects I’ve written the most about since I joined Oklahoma Watch in 2016.

The will-they-or-won’t-they saga seemed to be a perennial issue at the State Capitol as Democrats continuously called for expansion while Republicans repeatedly opposed the move.

With the prospect of bringing hundreds of millons in federal funds to the state, Gov. Kevin Stitt and former Gov. Mary Fallin both unsuccessfully attempted to push through their own version of the expansion.

It was the voters, almost exactly a year ago, who finally broke the political stalemate by passing State Question 802 by the narrowest of margins last June.

Thanks to that vote, starting July 1, the expansion will be officially underway. Although potential new enrollees were able to begin applying at the beginning of June, those who have already applied and been approved will be able to start receiving subsidized health care starting Thursday.

But getting to this point hasn’t been quick, or easy.

In my latest for Oklahoma Watch, I recapped the years of debate and waiting that came before this moment. I also whipped up a timeline of the major events over the past years (See the bottom of the article).

But I’m not done reporting about Medicaid expansion or how politics and healthcare intersect in the state.

Just this past week, I’ve been talking to folks in the medical community for an upcoming article looking at whether the state and others have done enough (look for that soon to drop on Oklahoma Watch) to let newly eligible Oklahomans know that they can apply soon to receive the new benefits.

What do you think? Do you or someone you know just find out about Medicaid expansion? Or are you unsure if you qualify? Or do you have questions that you want answered If so, email me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or find me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.

The Top Story

In this 2018 file photo, a sign is seen in an entryway at The Academy of Classical Christian Studies, an Oklahoma City private school (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch).

Oklahoma Spent $31M On Private School Vouchers While Collecting Almost No Data. That’s About To Change

For more than a decade, Oklahoma taxpayers have subsidized private school tuition for students whose disabilities made learning in public school difficult.

And, until recently, the state failed to collect even the most basic information on those students’ disabilities, gender, race, grade and their families’ income.

But Oklahoma Watch‘s Jennifer Palmer reports that beginning this year, all required data will be reported on the department’s website by Oct. 1 for each previous school year. [Read More …]

Tweet Watch

In case you need an #okleg fix already (and please, get help if you do), there will be more legislative action already on Tuesday.

Even though lawmakers are now out of session and there’s a while until interim studies begin, the Senate Appropriations Committee will be meeting Tuesday. The panel will be discussing the recent news that the Department of Corrections is shutting down the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply.

Oklahoma Watch‘s Keaton Ross reported on this story last week. Follow him on Twitter (@_keatonRoss) for updates and any drama or developments that come out of the meeting.

What I’m Reading This Week

  • State lawmakers and legislative redistricting staff will hold a series of town hall meetings this summer for Oklahomans to learn about the congressional redistricting process. Oklahomans will be welcome to attend, ask questions and offer suggestions at seven public meetings that kick off July 8 in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]
  • Initial claims for unemployment benefits in the state declined by 20% last week from the previous week’s number, although longer-term trends show claims increasing, according to a government report. [Tulsa World]
  • A Tulsa apartment complex that repeatedly sues for late rent and tacks on extra fees has been among the most prolific in the state since the pandemic. State law offers few protections for renters. [The Frontier]
  • On Saturday the battle for the Oklahoma GOP began when a far-right Senate candidate campaigning on debunked election conspiracies brought his campaign rally to Norman. Jackson Lahmeyer, a Tulsa-based pastor, is running a primary challenge against current Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who Lahmeyer says failed former President Donald Trump by not objecting to the electoral college on Jan. 6. [Norman Transcript]
  • Oklahoma officials are refusing to say how much taxpayer money an electric vehicle company will receive from the state in return for agreeing to build its first manufacturing plant in Pryor Lawmakers and open records watchdogs said the decision by the Governor’s Office and the state’s Department of Commerce to withhold the amount and type of incentives promised to Canoo is unusual. [CNHI]

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