Friday, September 27, 2013

Oklahoma ranks 46th in Spending on Mental Health

The hits keep on coming about the lousy state of affairs with healthcare in Oklahoma.  When it is not being dead last in Women's Health, it is being 46th in spending on Mental Health.

Had saved this story earlier to show how bad in Oklahoma it is with mental health when the state reverses cuts to add more and they are still ranked near the bottom.  Suicide is #2 in deaths trailing only accidental injuries according to a report from Oklahoma's Department of Mental Health.  The fact that people 15 to 34 are committing suicide at such an alarming rate should cause the Republican Legislature to take a few giant leaps as advocated by the Journal Record not give a 5.6% increase after years of cutting and neglect.
A story in the Journal Record cites a statistic from the state’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services that people with severe mental illness die 25 years sooner than those without. There is no available psychiatric diagnosis on Alexis or Lanza, but a police bullet is certainly one way those lives are shortened. Failure to seek medical treatment is another, as is failure to maintain a medicine regimen, and, unfortunately, suicide. In Oklahoma, suicide is the second most common cause of death among people age 15 to 34, trailing only accidental injuries. 
Oklahoma’s per capita spending on mental health in fiscal year 2010 was an appalling $53.05, 46th among the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The average per capita spending in the United States is $120.56; that’s 2.27 times what Oklahoma spends. Every adjacent state except Texas spends more. It will improve slightly for fiscal year 2014 because Gov. Mary Fallin proposed and the Legislature passed a $17.4 million increase for the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Department. The money is desperately needed, but it’s only a 5.6-percent raise after decades of budgetary neglect. 
That’s a step in the right direction, but lawmakers must consider a few giant leaps.
Read more from AP which is not flattering to the Republican run Oklahoma: 
Oklahoma also cut mental health programs in 2010 and 2011. But Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, a conservative elected in the GOP landslide of 2010 on a promise to cut spending, reversed course last year after grim warnings about the effect on public safety, and after several teen suicides in Oklahoma City.
"There just weren't enough resources," said Harry Tyler, director of the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma. 
Fallin approved a 20 percent budget increase and has pledged to make mental health a priority again this year. 
"You'll see more emphasis on being able to identify people that might have mental health challenges," she said. 
Tyler said he would encourage Fallin to provide more money for screening teenagers who could endanger themselves or others.
This is the highlight of the major bills the Legislature Passed and the Governor signed.  BTW, the cost of driver's license are being raised by $12 to make up for the tax cut.  Typical Republican response -- cut taxes for the wealthy and raise fees.  The average taxpayer will save an average of $82 a year or around $1.50 a week while someone with a $250,000 tax bill will now pay $6,250 less or $120 a week.  Can someone explain to me why the legislature would pass a bill knowing it is against the State Constitution as a bill cannot contain more then one subject?  From the Tulsa World:
Tax cut: Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 2032, which will reduce the state's top income tax rate to 5 percent from 5.25 percent in 2015 and further reduce it to 4.85 percent if the state sees enough revenue growth to cover the difference.  
If fully implemented at the 4.85 percent rate, the state would lose $253 million in income tax revenue.  
The drop to 5 percent will result in an average savings to taxpayers of $82 per individual income tax return, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.  
Efforts to reach a tax-cut agreement fell apart during the prior legislative session. 
Capitol repairs: The tax-cut bill also calls for spending $120 million to repair the Capitol building, which has structural, electrical and plumbing problems.  
"This is the seat of government," Fallin said of the building. "It is long overdue."
A legal challenge to the law is expected on the grounds that it deals with more than one subject.  
The Oklahoma Constitution requires that bills contain only one subject. If a bill deals with more than one issue, a lawmaker who favors one item but dislikes another would be forced to vote for or against the entire measure. 
Fees for driver's licenses will be increasing. Fallin signed Senate Bill 652, which increases the cost of a Class D driver's license by $12, bringing the total cost to $33.50 for a four-year license. Fees for other types of licenses are also increased under the measure, which is expected to generate $8.7 million to employ more workers to shorten lines for driver's licenses. 
Workers comp: Fallin also signed into law a State Chamber-backed workers compensation reform measure.  
Senate Bill 1062 changes the workers comp system from a court-based process to one that is administrative and reduces the amounts paid to injured workers. Supporters say it is necessary to attract businesses, adding that awards still remain higher than those in other states.  
Fallin called the measure "historic," noting that it will reduce costs and take care of injured workers.  
Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, said companies that allow unsafe workplaces are the winners while those who are hurt on the job are the losers under the measure.  
Critics said the savings come at the expense of injured workers and that it did little to address medical costs.  
Excerpt:  Read More at the Tulsa World
The hits to the average person in Oklahoma just keep coming and yet so many voters keep sending the same people back to the legislature to pass bills they are told to pass by the Chamber and ALEC.  That doesn't even count all the social issue bills from the hard right that take up a lot of time.  We have way too many State Legislators for a state this size -- 101 in the House and 48 in the Senate.  They are also the highest paid in our region and get healthcare from the State for the whole year even though they only work for four months officially.

"ENOUGH ALREADY" in Oklahoma!

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