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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

aecf-kidscountdatabookcover-2014The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been tracking child well-being in their annual KIDS COUNT Data Book for the past 25 years. The data in the 2014 report continues to measure indicators in four domains: 1) Economic Well-being, 2) Education, 3) Health, and 4) Family and Community. The figures are based on data as recent as 2012.

This year, Oklahoma fell to 39th overall in Child Well-Being in the KIDS COUNT state profiles. Terry Smith, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, was quoted in the Oklahoman as saying

“After a brief improvement in the rankings due to the recession’s impacts on the rest of the nation, Oklahoma has begun to fall again as the overall economy improves.”

Smith went on to say (more…)

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It’s time to once again cover Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap report. Feeding American, of course, is a network of over 200 food banks. They help their partners distribute 3 billion pounds of food every year.

Their annual Map the Meal Gap report examines local food insecurity trends and this year’s report reflects data from 2012. This report helps local food programs measure food insecurity within their communities, providing information on the local level and including data on every county in the U.S.

map the meal gap 2Their estimates show the food insecurity rate in the U.S. is 15.9%, down from 16.4% in last year’s report. This means 48,966,000 Americans lack the resources to consistently afford enough nutritious food to live active, healthy lives.

The report also highlights children’s hunger by measuring the child food insecurity rate, which is currently at 21.6%. The 2012 child food insecurity rate is also lower than in 2013, which was 22.4%, but still includes 15,898,999 children living with food insecurity.

For Oklahoma, Map the Meal Gap estimates food insecurity rates have remained virtually the same since last year’s report, coming in at 17.2% of the state population. This means (more…)

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When researchers test a new medicine or even a new program design, they often devise a study comparing results between a treatment group and a control group. People in the control group receive no treatment, and forgo any benefits if it is proven to work and avoid any side effects if proven harmful.

A trial is going on regarding healthcare in this country, and right now Oklahoma has put itself in the control group. In this case, being in the control group may not be in our state’s best interest. However, it will provide useful comparisons between our state and states that chose to expand Medicaid.

medicaidIn 2012, in the same decision where the Supreme Court ruled the bulk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was constitutional, the court also ruled that the federal government could not force the states to accept the Medicaid expansion. The Medicaid expansion was intended to provide healthcare coverage for Americans whose income fell below 133% of the poverty level.

While the court ruled the federal government could not force states to expand Medicaid eligibility, it did keep the option alive for states willing to accept federal money for the expansion. In essence, the final decision on expanding Medicaid fell to the individual states.

However, declining the expansion does not leave states in the same situation they were in before the ACA was passed.  In 2014, all states will begin to see a decline in the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments the federal government grants to states to fund care for indigent patients.

States used DSH payments to help hospitals deal with unpaid medical bills, and DSH payments are decreasing because Medicaid was supposed to fill the gap. So it is important to understand that declining additional Medicaid funds leaves many hospitals at a financial disadvantage. (more…)

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School will soon be out for many Tulsa students, and for families struggling with food insecurity this can mean an added strain on the budget. To address this need, the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program provides meals during the summer break.

Nationwide, 2.28 million children participated in the program in 2012 and 39,000 sites across the country helped distribute nutritious meals to children. Participation has grown in recent years. Yet, studies estimate the program still does not reach the majority of children who qualify for assistance under the National School Lunch Program during the regular school year.

2012-summer-food-service-program

The USDA allows for different types of eligible sites under the Summer Food Service Program. Both types of sites depend on standards for free and reduced lunches set by the National School Lunch Program. Students are eligible for free lunches if their household income is at or below 130% of the poverty level. Students from households with income between 130% and 180% of the poverty level qualify for reduced priced lunches.

Under the Summer Meal Service Program, there are “Enrolled Sites,” where each family must fill out an application and the site must (more…)

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It’s been a slow recovery. With the January release of CFED’s annual 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, we have further proof of this fact. The report, Treading Water in the Deep End, shows many American families are financially insecure, and this includes a growing number of Oklahomans.

2013_scorecardIn Oklahoma, it is estimated 49% of households live in a persistent state of financial insecurity, with no little or no savings to cover emergencies. This is up from last year’s estimate of 43.8% of Oklahomans who were considered “liquid asset poor.” Poor showings in areas related to income, assets, healthcare and education contributed to Oklahoma’s overall rank of 31, compared to other states.

The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard examines the financial security of Americans by assessing states based on 69 different outcome measures. The measures are grouped into five broader categories: 1) Financial Assets and Income, 2) Business and Jobs; (more…)

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An estimated 681,834 Oklahomans are currently uninsured, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The Tulsa World’s recent coverage of the issue states that in many Tulsa County neighborhoods, as few as 1 in 3 residents have health insurance coverage.

U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

Statewide, approximately 18.6% of individuals in Oklahoma are uninsured. To put this in perspective, the 2008-2012 ACS Health Insurance Coverage estimates put Oklahoma in seventh place for the highest rate of uninsured individuals in the country. Texas has the highest, at 23% uninsured. Massachusetts has the lowest rate, with only 4% of their population uninsured.

Education and income are among the factors that predict insurance coverage. Around 62% of our state’s uninsured adults have attained the equivalent of a high school diploma or less. Educational attainment is a contributing factor to household income, and lower incomes seem to be a trend among the uninsured. Nearly 65% of Oklahoma’s uninsured, an estimated 440,072, live in households with an annual income of (more…)

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As I write this, we are less than 3 days away from dramatic spending cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly 48 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits, and every one of them will see a decrease in monthly benefits beginning November 1st.

           nov snap cuts cbpp

Dottie Rosenbaum, writing for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) Off the Charts blog, puts the real life cost into perspective.

A household of three, such as a mother with two children, will lose $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014…That equals about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.”

Of course, the potential for further cuts does not end at the first of November.  The much debated Farm Bill is still being considered (more…)

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