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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.
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Today you should know that a new campaign has been launched in Tulsa that seeks to get more parents reading or talking with their young children. The program was officially unveiled Monday, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attending to speak about its expected impact. The number of Hispanic students in Tulsa public schools has doubled since 2007, and they now make up the largest ethnic group in the district.
With the deadline for open enrollment on the Affordable Care Act marketplace coming next Monday, the OK Policy Blog shared six reasons why Oklahomans should get covered. Members of Native American tribes who receive services at Indian health clinics are exempt from the deadline and can purchase insurance at any time.
The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week on whether Hobby Lobby and other private businesses can refuse to cover contraceptives on employee health plans. The New York Times discussed how the ruling could have repercussions beyond the issue of contraception, by creating a new barrier to laws addressing health, safety and civil rights if private business owners cite religious objections. MSNBC shared stories of challenges faced by teen parents in Oklahoma’s Choctaw Nation, where the teen pregnancy rate is nearly double the national average.
The Cherokee Nation is planning a series of events this year to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears. Oklahomans will begin to see large increases in flood insurance premiums as federal subsidies are phased out. Oklahoma City is looking for a way to collect millions in past due trash bills from residents who aren’t connected to the city water system and can’t be shut off for not paying. The Senate education committee unanimously approved a bill to replace Oklahoma’s Common Core standards.
Oklahoma has changed execution procedures after the state faced difficulties obtaining the drugs needed for executions. Two death row inmates are suing to challenge an Oklahoma law that bars disclosure of specifics about drugs that are used in executions. With more Oklahomans buying e-cigarettes, the number of poisonings from liquid nicotine used in the device is also on the rise, especially with children. The Number of the Day is the percentage of office-based physicians in Oklahoma with a basic electronic health record system. In today’s Policy Note, Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic discusses a major Obamacare benefit that’s gotten little attention.
In The News
With Clinton Present, Message Goes Out to Low-Income Parents: Talk to Teach
Tulsa is ground zero for a new early-childhood education campaign that seeks to get more parents reading or talking with their children, even if they are too young to understand. Nearly $1.5 million will be spent in Tulsa starting this spring to raise awareness about the importance of talking to children at a younger age. Advocates for the program see it as a key to closing the academic achievement gap, in which students who are minority or in poverty score lower on assessments than their white or middle-class peers. The program was officially unveiled Monday, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attending to speak in support and talk about its expected impact.
Hispanic students now largest ethnic group in Tulsa Public Schools
The demographics of the area’s large, inner-city school district has shifted dramatically, even as enrollment remains level at about 40,000 students. Off-setting dwindling numbers of white and black students has been a steady climb in the number of Hispanic students whose numbers have doubled just since 2007 to a total enrollment of 11,694. Hispanic students now fill nearly 30 percent of the school district’s seats and hold the majority at 16 of its roughly 75 sites. For the first time ever, a Tulsa high school East Central is in that category. All the while, the percentage of black and white students enrolled has decreased to 26.7 percent and 27.83 percent, respectively.
Are you covered yet?
The deadline to sign up for health insurance is March 31st! We’re sure you’re already signed up – but what about your friends and family? We’ve compiled a list of the main reasons why they should get covered before March 31st.
American Indians can enroll in health insurance plans after March 31
Sarah Payne isn’t sure why she has daily migraines, but she hopes to get answers soon. Payne has an appointment with a neurologist, something she could not afford until she recently bought a private health insurance plan through the federal marketplace. “I could have an aneurysm. There could be a tumor in my head we don’t know about,” Payne said. “But because I haven’t been to a doctor in four years, who knows?”
Oklahoma Company’s Challenge To Birth Control Coverage Before Supreme Court
The Obama administration and its opponents are renewing the Supreme Court battle over President Barack Obama’s health care law in a case that pits the religious rights of employers against the rights of women to the birth control of their choice. Two years after the entire law survived the justices’ review by a single vote, the court is hearing arguments Tuesday in a religion-based challenge from family-owned companies that object to covering certain contraceptives in their health plans as part of the law’s preventive care requirement.
Ruling Could Have Reach Beyond Issue of Insurance
The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that pits religious liberty against women’s rights. That issue is momentous enough. But it only begins to touch on the potential consequences of the court’s ruling in the case, notably for laws banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
16 and pregnant in the Choctaw Nation
“He’s still not talking yet,” said Autumn Sisco, staring down at the beefy little boy in the Buzz Lightyear sweatshirt playing at her feet. She scooped him up and swiped at his runny nose with her shirt sleeve. “I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” she said, sinking back into her living room sofa, watching the two-year-old bounce like a pinball across the living room floor to the kitchen, down a hallway and back. This isn’t what her life is supposed to look like.
Cherokee Nation Celebrates 175th Anniversary Of Trail Of Tears
It was 175 years ago the last group of Cherokees arrived in Tahlequah after walking on the Trail of Tears. On Monday, their memory was honored and their legacy celebrated. Their faces, forged with sadness and determination, statues represent the nearly 16,000 Cherokees who were taken from their homes and marched 2,200 miles to what is now modern day Oklahoma. Cherokee Citizen, Catherine Foreman-Gray, said, “And it’s hard when you think about the challenges, what they had to overcome just on a daily basis.”
Flood insurance hikes to hit Oklahoma homeowners
Though hefty premium increases for flood insurance may become a burden to some policy holders in Oklahoma, it’s necessary to keep the National Flood Institute from drowning, a stormwater manager for a southwestern Oklahoma city says. The federal government for many years has offered subsidized flood insurance on homes and businesses constructed in the days before there were rules for building close to the water. But the subsidies have been costly, the premiums collected haven’t sufficiently covered the payouts and the National Flood Insurance Program is billions of dollars in debt.
OKC Residents Living Off the Water Grid Owe Millions In Past Due Trash Bills
In October 2013, StateImpact reported on the 14,000 or so mostly rural Oklahoma City residents who have their own water wells and aren’t connected to the city water system. There’s no charge for water on their utility bills, but they’re still supposed to pay for trash pickup. But as The Oklahoman‘s William Crum reports, 2,409 of these waterless utility accounts are past due, and have been for years — to the tune of $5.5 million
Could Oklahoma lawmakers be putting an end to Common Core?
The Senate Education Committee passed House Bill 3399 this morning by a vote of 11-0. House Bill 3399 would replace the Common Core English and math standards with new, rigorous standards designed by the Oklahoma State Board of Education. The bill is also said to prevent direct or indirect federal control over those standards.
Oklahoma’s Execution Protocol Changed
Lawyers for two Oklahoma inmates say the state has informed them that it has changed execution procedures — and that there are now five acceptable ways to kill condemned inmates. In court papers filed Monday, lawyers for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner said they were notified Friday night that Oklahoma’s execution protocol had changed. The state had used a three-drug combination, but new possibilities include a mega-dose of pentobarbital or two new drug combinations.
Wising up: Alternative sentencing programs promising
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, successful in so many states, never was about rocket science. It was about how to help states that are stuck with too many offenders in prison and too little money to sustain high rates of incarceration. Hamstrung by political agendas, Oklahoma’s version of JRI has not evolved as intended. One aspect of the 2012 law included intermediate sanctions for nonviolent offenders committing technical violations of probation. They would be sent to designated facilities for six months to give them a better chance of cleaning up their acts and then returned to probation. One such offender was profiled by Tulsa World reporter Cary Aspinwall Friday. The woman, a drug addict, has spent several months in the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. The cost is about $7,000 for her time there versus $100,000 to put her in prison for the seven years remaining on her suspended sentence.
E-Cig Danger: Nicotine Poisonings of Children
With more Oklahomans buying e-cigarettes, the number of poisonings from liquid nicotine used in the device is also on the rise, especially with children. In 2013, the Oklahoma Poison Control Center received 77 calls about liquid nicotine poisoning, up more than sixfold from the 12 calls in 2012. The center received one call in 2010 and eight calls in 2011. Nationally, there were 427 e-liquid exposures in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, the National Poison Data System reports.
Quote of the Day
“I know that now if I spike a migraine in the middle of the night or that I’m vomiting or blacking out, that I can go to the ER and I don’t have to worry about it. Whereas before if that happened, it was basically wanting to put an anvil on my head, and I was taking two aspirin, two Tylenol, two this, two that. I was taking like 15 over-the-counter medications a day, probably eating my stomach up.”
-Sarah Payne, an Oklahoma City hair stylist who suffers daily migraines. Payne now has an appointment with a neurologist, something she could not afford until she recently gained access to health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace (Source: http://bit.ly/1ivUVZi).
Number of the Day
Percentage of office-based physicians in Oklahoma with a basic electronic health record system, significantly lower than the national average of 48.1 percent.
The Obamacare Benefit That Gets No Respect
Everybody wants to know whether the Affordable Care Act will significantly reduce the proportion of Americans without health insurance. It’s an extremely important question. It’s also not the only one that matters. Obamacare’s goal isn’t simply helping the uninsured. It’s also supposed to help the “underinsured”—people with policies that are so expensive to maintain, or leave such large gaps in coverage, that paying for health care is still a devastating burden. This problem hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.
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