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Oklahoma ScissorTales: Health care success story

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Oklahoma’s poor health outcomes are widely known. Less known is a collaboration that is helping to improve those outcomes, particularly for low-income residents.

The Oklahoman’s K.S. McNutt wrote recently about a pilot project called Route 66 Accountable Health Communities, which connects Medicaid and Medicare patients in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties with social service programs to boost their health.

The program, funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, uses a statewide exchange called the MyHealth Access Network, which comprises nearly 400 organizations that share medical records. Patients who arrive at emergency rooms or clinics are screened to assess their needs in five core areas — food, housing, utilities, transportation and interpersonal violence — and community health workers assist in getting them that help.

The goal since the project launched in 2017 was to see whether paying to help patients navigate social services reduces health care costs. The short answer: yes. The CMS has now approved expansion of the program statewide.

Dr. David Kendrick, MyHealth CEO, said no other region has something like MyHealth. There is “a light ahead and we’re taking a typically Oklahoma-innovation approach to it, and it’s not just one organization. It’s the whole system,” Kendrick said. “We believe this opportunity will serve as a success story for the nation.”

Clinics and health care systems that want to participate in this innovative and important program can email AHC@myhealthaccess.net or call (918) 703-4766.

OERB doing important work for 25 years

Our reporter Jack Money wrote this week about the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board’s abandoned well-site cleanup program. The program merits a salute. Nearly 17,000 sites have been restored from border to border, at the cost of roughly $120 million. The program is paid for by energy producers and royalty owners through a one-tenth of 1 percent assessment on the sale of oil or natural gas. Mike McDonald, OERB chairman, points out that Oklahoma is the only state with a voluntarily funded program. “It truly is an asset to Oklahoma and something we should all be very proud to have been part of,” McDonald said. He’s right. Kudos.

Tariff battle continues to impact farmers

Last year, President Trump provided about $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by his tariff battles with China. Trump said this week that he plans to help subsidize them again, using some revenue from his latest tariffs on Chinese goods. Many farmers would rather have a consistent market to deal in. Chinese tariffs have hurt wheat, corn and soybean growers for almost a year. And commodity prices fell sharply following the administration’s recent increase in tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. Wheat farmers "are looking for trade, not aid," Sentinel grower Jimmie Musick said this week. A soybean farmer in Virginia told CNN that the president “owes farmers like myself some type of plan of action. Farmers were his base. They helped elect this president … and now he’s turning his back on America’s farmers when we need him the most.” Farmers’ pain is likely to continue — Trump shows no indication he's about to change his strategy with China.

No surprise, measles makes it to Oklahoma

As a measles outbreak spread across the country, including to neighboring states Texas, Colorado and Missouri, it was safe to assume we’d see cases in Oklahoma, too. That happened this week when officials in Okmulgee County confirmed the first Oklahoma case since May of last year. The person infected had returned to Oklahoma after traveling domestically and internationally. About a week before this case arose, the state Health Department encouraged families to review their immunization records and plan ahead in case international travel was planned and vaccinations were needed. This remains sound advice — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports at least 839 measles cases in 23 states this year, with nearly half of those in children younger than 5. A disease that was declared eliminated in this country in 2000 is back with a vengeance.

Court’s liberals get an assist from Kavanaugh

In a 5-4 decision this week, the Supreme Court agreed that Apple could be sued by app buyers for allegedly driving up prices by overcharging app developers. Apple had argued that its IOS users were technically buying apps from developers, not from the company. A 1977 court ruling held that “indirect purchasers” of a product couldn’t file antitrust cases. Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the high court’s four liberal justices in saying that doesn’t apply in this case. In doing so, the court has effectively replaced precedent “with a facile rule that forbids lawsuits only where plaintiffs don’t contract directly with defendants,” The Wall Street Journal editorialized. “This will dramatically expand antitrust litigation, complicate damage calculations and require judges to defer to economic ‘experts.’” Perhaps progressives who were apoplectic during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings because of his conservative bent will note his role in advancing one of their causes.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›

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