HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

okcfox.com

Over half a million uninsured motorists drive on Oklahoma’s roads every day.

Now, reports KOKH, a new program aims to lower that number. The state’s District Attorney Council has proposed a system that would allow law enforcement to scan license plates and determine if the driver is insured.

But, for the plan to work, Oklahoma’s motor vehicle insurance database will need to be upgraded.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

This week the Texas House Public Education Committee heard testimony on a bill that would decrease the number of standardized tests faced by students in the Lone Star State.

At first blush, the idea seems like it might carry broad support among Texas educators. But, as The Texas Tribune reports, teacher opinions on the idea actually constitute a mixed bag.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature took a big step last week toward battling health problems in rural parts of the state.

As StateImpact reports, rural Oklahomans have long been fighting a losing battle with diabetes, and obesity. And heart disease is the state’s number one killer.

Colorado facing teaching shortage

Apr 19, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

In Colorado, the teacher shortage is growing larger each year with rural districts struggling the most to fill teaching positions.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is in need of around 3,000 new teachers, but the graduation rate from teacher-preparation programs has declined by close to 25 percent over the past five years.

Brad Gibson / Oklahoma Watch

For decades, Oklahoma public schools have been struggling to retain principals. Last year 73 percent of Oklahoma’s 1,900 principals had held their positions for five years or less.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the constant turnover of principals costs Oklahoma districts thousands of dollars a year.

AgWeek

In an opinion piece this week, the editorial board of the weekly agricultural newspaper AgWeek insisted that rural health care has reached a dire state, and must be addressed now.

When it comes to heath care, writes AgWeek, “the worry is greater today than it's ever been.” Hospitals have been closing across rural America at a troubling pace. Many agriculturalists have taken jobs away from the farm, just so they can have health care.

Dallas Morning News

In 2015, Texas spent almost half of its budget on healthcare—a total of nearly $43 billion. Now, as health costs spiral out of control, the Lone Star State is trying to figure out how to assure the health of the state’s residents, while still paying for state worker insurance, prison inmate health, and disabled benefits.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

In a move that has infuriated health advocates in his state and across the country, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback vetoed a measure last week that would have expanded Medicaid across the state.

As The Kansas City Star reports, the decision means 150,000 more Kansans will go without health care than if he had signed it. The bill passed the Senate in a 25-14 vote, and passed the house by a similarly wide margin of 81-44.

David Amsler / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report shows that the rate of those who receive disability benefits is far higher in the rural parts of America than in the more populous centers.

As The Washington Post reports, 133 of the 136 counties with the highest disability rates in the U.S. are rural. In those counties, more than one in six working-age adults receive disability.

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control

Last year, Oklahoma experienced a record number of drug overdoses, reports Oklahoma Watch.

In another gruesome precedent, methamphetamines were the biggest killer, for the first time ever. 2016 saw 952 from overdose deaths, and that number could reach closer to 1,000 as pending autopsies are finalized. The overdose number is almost 100 deaths higher than the previous record of 870 in 2014. Of the deaths, over a third occurred due to methamphetamines.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

When it comes to education budgets, Texas colleges and universities are facing some dark days ahead, reports The Fort Worth Star Telegram.

The state Legislature has proposed deep cuts to higher education funding, and on top of that the Trump administration has suggested slashing Federal contributions, and Texas is considering freezing tuition rates.

KFOR

Dallas school districts have been actively recruiting Oklahoma teachers.

As KFOR reports, Dallas ISD is holding interviews in Oklahoma City this week to try to convince some of the state’s most qualified teachers to head to Texas, where pay and benefits are significantly better than in the Sooner State.

Creative Commons

The Colorado Legislature has proposed a series of deep budget cuts that could cause rural hospitals across the state to close.

Indiana Public Media / Flickr Creative Commons

A proposed Kansas school finance formula drew more fire this week, in the closing day of hearings on the plan.

WFAA

Retired Teachers in Texas will soon take a big hit when it comes to healthcare costs, reports WFAA.

Beginning in September, educators who have reached retirement in Texas will pay double or even triple their current healthcare premiums.

Ella's Dad / Creative Commons

The Texas Senate has put the statewide pre-K program on the chopping block, reports KXAN.

The most recent Senate budget plan shows significant funding cuts for the pre-K grant proposal, which is backed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The grant plan was initiated two years ago, after lawmakers declared state prekindergarten funding to be in a state of emergency. The Governor’s grants would put well over $100 million toward high-quality Pre-K across Texas.

KFOR

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.”

Creative Commons

A school finance proposal that would boost funding by more than $75 million is going to fall short of what the Kansas Supreme Court views as adequate.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the court ruled earlier this month that the state was not providing an adequate education to all Kansas students and gave the Kansas Legislature until June 30 to come up with a new school finance formula.

William Brawley / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma saw four more flu-related deaths this week, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department.

As The Oklahoman reports, that brings the statewide total for flu deaths since last September up to 68. The state has also seen more than 2,100 Oklahomans hospitalized due to influenza since the beginning of this flu season. The most recent deaths occurred in Oklahoma, Cherokee, Kay, and Tulsa counties.

Bob Daemmerich / The Texas Tribune

Yesterday the Texas Senate Education Committee passed legislation to open the door to what has become known as “School Choice.” As The Texas Tribune reports, the new bill would pay tax dollars to  parents, to be used for private school tuition and homeschooling expenses.

The bill passed by a vote of 7-3, with the Republicans on the committee voting in favor. The measure will now head to the full Senate, where it’s also expected to pass. The legislation has long been a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

foodsafetynews.com

Almost 75,000 pounds of beef products have been pulled from store shelves in Texas, reports KFDA.

The recall occurred after reports of E Coli in boneless beef products were received from Waco’s H & B Packing.

davebloggs007 / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week Wyoming approved a plan to cut $35 million from the state’s K-12 budget. Wyoming is just the latest of several oil and coal states across the country, including Texas and Oklahoma, that have slashed funding for education, reports The Atlantic.

Last year, Oklahoma cut well over $100 million in public school funding, forcing some districts to move to four-day school weeks.

Creative Commons

Higher education tuitions have been rising lately in Texas. But financial aid packages haven’t been increasing to keep up with the hefty cost of college, reports the Texas Tribune.

Texas lawmakers say they understand that helping students obtain college degrees is vital to the state’s economic future. But the legislative evidence doesn’t seem to be backing up their words.

News Journal

Near the end of the Obama administration, prison reform advocates had grown cautiously optimistic that America’s pattern of incarcerating two million US citizens each year might be coming to an end.

Wallethub

In all but six states, women outnumber men. Yet in many areas of the U.S., women are being treated poorly. There are still 19 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and women make up the majority of poor, uninsured adults in those states.  

Heather Carpenter Costello / Creative Commons

Texas lawmakers are taking aim at a boozy trend that has started to take hold in some Lone Star dentist’s offices.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, some dentists have been offering alcoholic beverages to patients while they wait to be seen. Last week Texas legislators called the new idea “appalling” and “irresponsible.”

56 mumps cases being reported in Kansas

Mar 12, 2017
Centers for Disease Control / Wikimedia Commons

56 cases of mumps have been reported in Kansas, prompting the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to urge Kansans to take precautions. 

As The Wichita Eagle reports, 56 mumps cases have been reported in Kansas since March 4.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the cases were reported in Atchison, Barton, Crawford, Douglas, Ellis, Finney, Franklin, Johnson, Marshall, Riley, Rooks and Thomas Counties.

Valarie Smith

A new program for at-risk juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system was launched in 52 western Kansas counties and 29 northeastern counties last week.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, the Kansas Department of Corrections celebrated the launch of the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program at the Finney County Department of Corrections in Garden City.

NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory

March 5 to 11 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas and a couple of events are planned to ensure people are ready for severe weather.

According to the National Weather Service, a statewide tornado safety drill will take place at 10 a.m. central time on Tuesday and Finney County Emergency Management will be holding a severe weather/storm safety training Thursday.

The National Weather Service provides storm identification/spotter training sessions each spring in cooperation with area emergency management agencies.

CC0 Public Domain

As childhood immunization rates rise in Colorado, a lawmaker wants to strip funding from the state’s Immunization Information System.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado ranks 14th in the country in childhood immunization rates, according to a study released Friday.

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