Hours after a grand jury met to look into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, lawmakers sent subpoenas to three of the state’s top budget officials. Meanwhile, the exodus of leadership at the Health Department continues in the wake of the agency’s sudden cash crunch.
The state Health Department is scrambling to cover an unexpected $10 million shortfall that emerged over the summer. Along with employee furloughs, layoffs and contract cuts, the agency sought payments from county-city health departments, which refused to pay.
Thousands of Oklahomans suffer from hearing loss and can’t afford hearing aids that would improve their quality of life. Medicare and SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program, offer limited or no coverage.
Oklahomans who buy health insurance on the federal exchange will see higher premiums again next year. And President Donald Trump’s recent actions could increase costs and reduce coverage options in years to come.
The federal government has missed a state-requested deadline to approve a plan to shore up the Affordable Care Act marketplace. As a result, officials expect higher premiums and fewer Oklahomans receiving coverage.
Oklahoma saw a record 517 reports of newborn infants who tested positive for dangerous drugs or alcohol last year. Much of the increase involved exposure to marijuana, with prescription drugs and meth also frequently detected.
What more can Oklahoma do to reduce the tragic toll of prescription painkiller addiction? A state commission is looking for new ideas, and experts here, as well as examples in other states, could help map a strategy.