[In The Know] Health care authority requests FY 2013 budget increase

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the state’s Medicaid agency requested a 25 percent budget increase for FY 2013.  Advocates work to raise awareness about the scope and severity of domestic violence in Oklahoma, as more than 600 victims go to sleep each night in one of the state’s temporary emergency shelters.  A Federal Reserve economist told a forum in Oklahoma that national economic conditions are still very precarious.

The Indian Nations Council of Governments adopted the Tulsa Regional Transit System Plan, a 25-year plan for a comprehensive regional transportation system.  The Grand River Dam Authority has hired Rep. Dan Sullivan to run the state-owned utility. Rep. Tom Cole told a Senate committee that a recent Supreme Court ruling turned the notion of tribal sovereignty on its head and created two classes of Indian tribes.  Legislators disagree about methamphetamine proposals to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine and track sales across state lines.

The chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court told a legislative panel that redrawing judicial districts is unnecessary.  House Speaker Kris Steele and a group of lawmakers reviewing policies and procedures at the Department of Human Services are finalizing a program aimed at producing better outcomes for children in state custody. Today’s Number of the Day is the amount statewide average precipitation was below normal this water year, the 2nd driest year on record for Oklahoma.  In today’s Policy Note, the National Academy of State Health Policy released a paper detailing efforts by state agencies to identify and act on racial and ethnic health disparities.

In The News

Oklahoma health agency budget request may top $1 billion

The authority that administers the state’s health coverage program wants nearly a quarter-billion dollar shot in the arm in fiscal year 2013 — an additional 25 percent on top of its current nearly $1 billion budget.  The bulk of its budget request totals almost $166 million to maintain current service levels of the Medicaid program, also called Soonercare.  Another $33 million would restore the health care providers’ reimbursement rate cuts from fiscal year 2010, and $16 million would give certain providers, such as nursing homes and private duty nurses, additional rate increases to bring them up to national industry standards. Other funding requests include an additional $1.5 million to meet mandates of the new Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, members of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority learned Thursday at a board meeting.  For the past three years, Oklahoma doctors who have treated Medicaid patients have gotten paid only 96.75 percent of the bill.  “The doctors ate it,” authority spokesman Carter Kimble said.  But the new federal requirements will mean doctors in all states must get paid 100 percent.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/oklahoma-health-agency-budget-request-may-top-1-billion/article/3613236#ixzz1alCQ6200

Advocates work to raise awareness for domestic violence victims

More than 600 domestic violence victims will go to sleep tonight in Oklahoma’s emergency shelters.  If there were more beds, they’d be filled, too, said Marcia Smith, executive director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.  Oklahoma has strong domestic violence laws, Smith said. But many Oklahomans lack awareness of the problem. That’s why this month — Domestic Violence Awareness Month — is so important, she said.  “We do have to focus on being a community that’s responsive and responsible to victims,” Smith said. “We need, as friends and family, to reach out and support.”

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/advocates-work-to-raise-awareness-for-domestic-violence-victims/article/3613121#ixzz1alDKWaTK

Federal Reserve national assessment: Things will be fine, unless they’re not

In comments at the recent Federal Reserve Economic Forum in Oklahoma, George A. Kahn provided a sobering assessment of the national and international economy, a picture somewhat offsetting robust and strongly positive analysis of trends in Oklahoma from Chad Wilkerson (another Fed economist) and several state officials. The Vice President and Economist based at the Kansas City branch of the Federal Reserve detailed how the housing sector has never truly regained pre-Recession strengths, and that many households are still trying to rebuild balance sheets.  This year, significant supply disruptions came after the Japanese tsunami, along with the U.S. “debt ceiling debacle,” and subsequent lowering of the U.S. credit rating by Standard & Poors.   Despite challenges, Kahn and other economists anticipate moderate growth in the coming year. Still, consumers are hesitant and confidence is low. Another stimulus jolt in spending from Washington is unlikely.

Read more from CapitolBeatOK at http://capitolbeatok.com/CustomContentRetrieve.aspx?ID=4038897

INCOG board adopts plan for regional transit

Planning officials on Thursday took the first step toward filling a gaping hole in the region’s transportation system.  In a unanimous vote, the board of directors of the Indian Nations Council of Governments adopted the Tulsa Regional Transit System Plan.  The 25-year plan, commonly known as Fast Forward, provides a vision for a more comprehensive regional transportation system anchored by seven “foundation” corridors suitable for high-capacity transportation systems.  The corridors include a 14-mile commuter route between downtown Tulsa and Main Street in Broken Arrow, three urban routes totaling 42 miles and three circulator routes totaling 14 miles.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20111014_16_A4_Planni690636&rss_lnk=12

GRDA votes to hire Sullivan

By a split vote, Grand River Dam Authority directors on Thursday decided to hand the reins of the state-owned utility to state House Floor Leader Dan Sullivan.  By his own admission, Sullivan has no energy experience, but the directors who voted for the four-term Tulsa Republican believe his leadership ability and political connections made him the best fit for the state-owned utility.  “He’s a leader, he’s intelligent, he’s been one of the managing partners of his law firm. I think with him we go from having essentially no relationship with the Legislature to a good one,” LaGere said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20111014_16_A1_CUTLIN460608&rss_lnk=12

Cole: Supreme Court ruling on tribal trust land needs remedy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tom Cole told a Senate committee Thursday that a 2009 Supreme Court decision turned the notion of tribal sovereignty on its head and put trust land worth billions of dollars into legal limbo.  “Without a legislative fix, more billions of dollars and decades will be spent on litigation and disputes between tribes and state and local governments,” the Oklahoma Republican warned.  In a case out of Rhode Island – Carcieri v. Salazar – the court essentially stated that the Indian Reorganization Act applies only to tribes under federal jurisdiction in 1934.  “This decision creates two classes of Indian tribes, those that can have land in trust and those that cannot,” Cole said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=335&articleid=20111014_16_A15_ULNSsi605742

Legislator disputes foes pushing tracking pseudoephedrine across state lines

OKLAHOMA CITY – A McAlester legislator is disputing another lawmaker’s stance that Oklahoma’s methamphetamine problem can be dealt with by tracking pseudoephedrine sales across state lines.  Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, favors a proposal to require a prescription to buy the anti-allergy drug, which is a key ingredient in most of the state’s meth labs.  “Meth abuse is more than a serious problem in Oklahoma,” Renegar said.  Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, said Wednesday that he believes that requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine sales is unfair to law-abiding Oklahomans.  Instead, Derby advocated the state’s joining the National Precursor Log Exchange, which tracks pseudoephedrine sales across state lines.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20111014_16_A10_CUTLIN30735

Redrawing of judicial districts not required, chief justice says

OKLAHOMA CITY – The chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court told a legislative panel Thursday that the judiciary has not requested the redrawing of judicial districts.  “We do redistricting every day,” Chief Justice Steven Taylor said.  Taylor said he can assign a judge from one district to handle cases in another district to cover the workload.  “I am not here to support or oppose any plan,” he said. “I am here to be a resource.”  Taylor said the Legislature is not required to redraw the districts every 10 years following the Census. The Legislature recently completed redrawing state legislative and congressional boundaries.

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20111014_16_A10_CUTLIN936328&rss_lnk=12

Steele to unveil strategy for addressing DHS child-death issues

House Speaker Kris Steele and lawmakers reviewing the Department of Human Services and its policies and procedures for monitoring children in state custody will reveal next week a program aimed at producing better outcomes in such cases.  Officials said the strategy will focus on improving DHS by reforming its governing structure, personnel policies, allocation of resources, the overall structure of the agency itself and increasing accountability.  The Oklahoma Human Services Commission recently created a committee, chaired by former Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, to review investigations into the deaths of children and vulnerable adults in DHS custody. The panel is charged with determining whether the investigations comply with agency policies, and whether those policies are appropriate.

Read more from 23rd & Lincoln at http://journalrecord.com/23rd-and-Lincoln/2011/10/13/steele-to-unveil-strategy-for-addressing-dhs-child-death-issues/

Quote of the Day

You can have a lot of money. You can have no money. You can be highly educated. You can be unable to write your name. It affects all kinds of people.

Kathryn Toahty, coordinator of the Violence Prevention Program at the University of Central Oklahoma on the prevalence of domestic violence in Oklahoma

Number of the Day

16.43 inches

Amount statewide average precipitation was below normal this water year (October 1-September 30), the 2nd driest year on record for Oklahoma.

Source: Oklahoma Climatological Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Using Report Cards to Measure Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: State Experience

State agencies identify, document, and act on data related to racial and ethnic health and health care disparities in various ways.  One type of document states produce is a “report card,” or a publication that uses data from race/ethnicity-specific measures to assign letter grades that rate the state’s performance. This issue brief, prepared by NASHP for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), focuses on New Mexico’s experience using report cards to measure racial and ethnic health disparities.

Read more from the National Academy for State Health Policy at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/race/ReportcardsIB.pdf

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