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Oklahoma will now exclude cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating chemical found in marijuana, from its definition of the drug.
Dank Depot / Flickr Creative Commons

The state of Oklahoma has changed its definition of marijuana to exclude federally approved treatments containing cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating chemical found in the plant.  

An investigation by Buzzfeed News alleges extensive abuse of patients at Shadow Mountain Behavorial Health, a live-in facility owned by Universal Health Services, the country’s largest psychiatric hospital chain. The report contains allegations that employees manhandled children as young as eight years old, and to have ignored patients’ attempts to inflict self-harm. The investigation also alleges understaffing, sexual abuse and patient riots. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is now investigating the Tulsa hospital.

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahomans could soon be able to vote on whether eye doctors can open clinics inside retail stores.

 

Oklahoma is currently one of only three states with a law that prohibits optometrists from practicing in retail locations or maintaining any commercial relationship with a retail optical store.  

Updated at 9:48 p.m. ET

The White House issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday: Vote for the current GOP health care replacement plan or leave the Affordable Care Act in place and suffer the political consequences.

With a vote rescheduled for Friday in the U.S. House, it's down to the wire for the American Health Care Act, the Republican-authored bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Curtis Davis loads a cardboard baler at St. Anthony hospital in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

False Medical Claims Investigations in Oklahoma

About seven years ago, the U.S. Attorney General’s office began working with district court prosecutors to crack down on false medical claims. They are investigated all the time, and settlements have become more common in Oklahoma. Many of the investigations are settled before a complaint is filed.

Adam Brooks, the managing editor of The Journal Record newspaper, said most false claims involve overcharging Medicaid.

The 22 states that didn't expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Obamacare last year saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents.

It's a counterintuitive twist for those states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people.

James Martin/Flickr

While some Republican-led states are exploring whether to expand Medicaid to include more low-income residents, Oklahoma's GOP leaders remain steadfastly opposed to the idea.

The head of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority says there is no effort underway to seek a Medicaid expansion or even develop an Oklahoma-specific plan for seeking available funding.

Indiana recently received approval to expand Medicaid through a state-run program, making it the 128th state to do so and the 10th with a Republican in the governor's mansion.

Gov. Mary Fallin at her 2015 State of the State speech before the Oklahoma legislature.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin has released her executive budget sent to the legislature for fiscal year 2016 that begins July 1, 2015.

Fallin urged lawmakers to spend more than $80 million to boost funding for K-12 education, several health agencies and the Department of Corrections. Funding for ten other agencies would be flat; the rest would face 6.25 percent cuts to their annual appropriations. The state is facing a $300 million budget hole that could grow as low oil prices affect revenues. Fallin predicts a tough budget year.

Morton Comprehensive Health Services

The CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Services Inc. says his clinics will not accept uninsured patients next year, citing cuts to a state fund that pays for uncompensated medical care.

CEO John Silva tells the Tulsa World that the decision is probably the most difficult one he's made in 30 years. He says his clinics can't afford to take in patients who don't have insurance. Morton has clinics in Tulsa, Nowata and Bartlesville.

George Rainy pushes an electrocardiogram machine through the emergency department at St. Anthony Hospital in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

It’s the time of year when a lot of people are thinking about health care. Many private employers’ option periods just wrapped up, and on November 15 annual enrollment opened for the Affordable Care Act.

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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Oklahoma's challenge to the federal health care law.

Pruitt announced Thursday that he has filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review Oklahoma's lawsuit that challenges the tax subsidies offered under the law.

The Supreme Court earlier this month agreed to hear a similar case out of Virginia, but Pruitt notes that in that case neither of the parties is a state.

Oklahoma nursing homes are rated 49th and Oklahoma’s health care system for the elderly is ranked 47th in two new studies. A three-year $11.5 million dollar grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative will help deal with some of the shortcomings. Increased state funding is still needed to improve the health of Oklahoma seniors.

a stack of dollar bills with a stethoscope and bottle of pills
James Martin / Flickr

A federal judge has sided with Oklahoma in its lawsuit challenging some subsidies offered to people buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday's ruling is the latest court decision on regulations in the federal law that allow health insurance tax credits in all 50 states. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., threw out a decision questioning those subsidies.

The Javoric / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin has applied to participate in an Affordable Care Act program designed to help states develop innovative models for delivering care and reducing costs for participants in Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

In a story posted on July 31, Oklahoma Watch reported inaccurately that the state had chosen not to participate in the State Innovation Models grant program. The inaccuracy was caused by a series of miscommunications between Oklahoma Watch and the governor’s office. Oklahoma Watch regrets the error.

Oklahoma Sits Out New Obamacare Grants

Jul 31, 2014
Images Money / Flickr

Note (Aug. 21, 2014): Oklahoma Watch has published a major correction to the following story. Further reporting confirmed that Gov. Mary Fallin did apply to participate in the Affordable Care Act grant program titled "State Innovation Models." Oklahoma Watch sincerely regrets the error. Please read the corrected story at this link.

stethoscope
Lora Zibman / Flickr Creative Commons

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.

Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?

Another wild legal ride for Obamacare on Tuesday: Two U.S. Court of Appeals panels issued conflicting decisions on an issue with the potential to gut the health care overhaul.

The two rulings could lead to another U.S. Supreme Court showdown over the controversial law, all because of what one of the law's opponents initially called "a glitch."

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Update 3:15pm: see NPR's story about another court decision that affirms the federal health care law, saying the state exchanges set up by the federal government can offer subsidies to people who purchase insurance through those subsidies.

 

Santi Kos, manager of Fashion Sport and Uniforms at 1300 NW 23rd St. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs, The Journal Record

Parents, Cities And Counties Plan For Back-To-School Tax Holiday.

August first through third, shoppers don’t have to pay sales tax on clothing items that cost less than $100. The holiday was implemented in 2007 to discourage shoppers from crossing state lines to save.

That’s good news for family budgets, but it also means the state misses out on $4 million it might have had otherwise.

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