Oklahoma health

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Health advocates in Oklahoma are continuing to press for Medicaid expansion.

As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 made the expansion optional for states. After that decision, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declined federal funds that would have resulted in thousands more Oklahomans being covered by health insurance. A recent Census Bureau report found that Oklahoma has the second-highest rate of uninsured residents among all states.

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Oklahoma has confirmed its first measles case of the year.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed last week that a case of measles has been discovered in Okmulgee County. This is the first confirmed case since May 2018. The measles patient has returned to Oklahoma after traveling domestically and internationally.

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For the year 2018, three out of the five states in the High Plains Public Radio listening region fell into the bottom half of national rankings when it comes to overall health. And Oklahoma once again performed particularly poorly in the rankings.

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On July 1, the State of Oklahoma increased prices on cigarettes and little cigars. As a result, reports The Norman Transcript, registrations on the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline have now doubled. 

According to the most recent numbers, the helpline saw an 85 percent increase in registrations in the first four weeks of July compared to data from the same period last year.

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The Oklahoma Board of Health has reversed course, now approving looser regulations for medical marijuana use in the Sooner State.

As StateImpact reports, the new rules now head to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin for approval. The new emergency regulations are less than a third the length of the rules approved early last month. Under the new rules, a pharmacist will no longer be required to dispense marijuana.

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UPDATE: The Oklahoma Board of Health has now removed this regulation, which "experts criticized as vague and legally troublesome."

Oklahoma may soon become the only state to require a pregnancy test in order for residents to obtain permission to use medical marijuana.

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The former lawyer for the Oklahoma State Department of Health is facing felony charges for allegedly emailing herself threatening messages.

As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, Julie Ezell is accused of sending threats to her own government email account, regarding the state’s new medical marijuana law. Ezell then alerted health department investigators of the threats.

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Oklahoma’s foster care system has been beleaguered by high rates of abuse and neglect for years.

And, as The Tulsa World reports, much of that child abuse is due to Oklahoma’s high levels of meth addiction, with the state’s opioid addiction struggles adding to the problem in recent years.

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Oklahoma’s Health Department is still struggling to gain its footing after being racked by scandal and turmoil in recent months. In the most recent development, the Health Department’s interim commissioner abruptly resigned this month, after allegations of domestic violence surfaced.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Board of Health unanimously accepted Preston Doerflinger’s resignation. Specific details for Doerflinger’s resignation weren’t given.

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A private organization announced this week that it is supplying every sheriff’s department in Oklahoma with a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses.

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The flu is taking a heavy toll on the state of Oklahoma this season. According to KFOR, 74 people have died from the outbreak since Sept. 1. Meanwhile, the state has seen over 2,000 hospitalizations resulting from the viral infection, which has been wreaking havoc across the U.S.

Oklahoma pharmacist Dani Lynch said medicine is becoming harder to find in the Sooner State.

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The Oklahoma Department of Health has announced that it will lay off almost 200 employees, in an attempt to clean up the mess that it wrought during last year’s financial scandal, in which the department acknowledged that it had overspent and mismanaged millions of dollars.

To correct the budget woes, the Health Department may also end grants that support child abuse prevention programs and health centers throughout Oklahoma. A grand jury is currently investigating the financial debacle.

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According to a new study, Oklahoma has shown some improvements in smoking rates and obesity rates.

But, as The Tulsa World reports, the state still ranks last in percentage of uninsured residents. The figures come courtesy of the annual America’s Health Rankings report by the United Health Foundation.

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The rate of people who smoke cigarettes in Amarillo remains higher than the national rate, reports The Amarillo Globe-News. The city is home to almost 32,000 smokers, and collectively, they cost the city over $2 million annually.

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Opiates continue to ravage rural communities in Oklahoma, and the question of how to combat the problem is expected to dominate the 2018 legislative session.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the state is doing some things right, but in other areas the response to the drug epidemic has lagged behind other states. Overdoses from methamphetamine and heroin have increased in recent years. In fact, last year, a record 899 Oklahomans died from drug overdoses.

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The percentage of Oklahomans who smoke is lower than ever before, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

As KFOR reports, in 2015 a little over 22 percent of Oklahoma residents smoked tobacco. As of last year, the rate had fallen to 19.6 percent.

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Oklahoma’s woes are now so dire that the state is making news in the United Kingdom. Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article about Oklahoma, asking the question “Can anyone fix this failing state?”

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In the last three years, 3,000 Oklahomans have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis.

Now, as the Enid News And Eagle reports, state Attorney General Mike Hunter is doing his best to rein in the scourge of opioids.

But he’s got an uphill battle.

In 2014, almost 10 million prescriptions for opioids were filled statewide - the equivalent of giving everyone in the state 50 pills.

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Oklahoma will soon announce a new health care initiative aimed at reducing premiums and expanding coverage for everyday Oklahomans.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Affordable Care Act has struggled recently. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only remaining insurer on the state exchange.

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Despite a years-long crisis that has led to dozens of rural hospital closures across the U.S., there are signs of life for at least one facility in Western Oklahoma.

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According to a new study, life expectancies in some parts of Oklahoma are growing at a more rapid pace than in others.

NewsOK reports that the Oklahoma Panhandle has exhibited a marked increase in life expectancy since 1980, showing a gain of between four and five percent, one of the strongest surges in the state.

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Oklahoma may lose its last insurer on the healthcare marketplace next year, reports KFOR. The number of insurers on the Oklahoma exchange has fallen after several carriers sustained significant losses.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak noted the “absence of legislative action to create a solution that can restore the stability of our health insurance system.”

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While legislators in Washington are mired in the process of deciding whether to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers in Oklahoma are devising their own plan that could affect coverage for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans.

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Deaths due to the flu have been spreading across Oklahoma, reports KFOR.

According to officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 37 deaths related to the flu have now been recorded in the state. That total includes nine in recent days. Tulsa County has been hit the hardest, with 10 deaths this year in that county alone.

Across Oklahoma, almost 1,500 people have been hospitalized due to influenza this year.

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Oklahoma has opened its first new abortion clinic in over forty years, reports Refinery29.

In fact, Gerald Ford was president the last time Oklahoma opened a new family planning clinic. The Trust Women South Wind Women's Center will provide many services to women, including abortions, Ob/Gyn care, family planning, adoption services, and emergency contraception.

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Tobacco sales to minors have doubled in Oklahoma over the past four years, reports The Duncan Banner.

The rise in sales was detected by more retailers selling tobacco products to undercover minors during random checks throughout the state. This year’s non-compliance rate of 14 percent is more than twice the seven percent recorded only four years ago.

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In Oklahoma, insurance revenues for home health care dropped last year in comparison to previous years. At the same time, the price of home healthcare rose 2.5 percent over last year, reports member station KGOU. In fact, healthcare costs are rising in every area of health care in Oklahoma.

It’s not just in Oklahoma; home health care costs are going up nationwide. The reason? More Medicare providers are trying to keep chronically ill patients out of hospitals.