Conservative politicians here have broken the Oklahoma public school system through intentional and careless massive funding cuts. Now it looks like their punitive actions will lead to a massive reduction of health care providers in the state’s rural areas and the possible shut down of nursing homes.
— Enidnews (@enidnews) March 31, 2016
Welcome to the great reddest of red state of Oklahoma, soon to reach Third-World status in desperate need of federal intervention in all aspects of its government and finances. (Is this even hyperbole, anymore?) Conservatives got us here by pushing income tax cuts for the wealthy, passing tax breaks for big corporations and by cheerleading the “drill, baby, drill” mantra that has led to a worldwide fossil fuel cut now taking its toll on the Oklahoma economy in a sinister, soul-destroying manner. This has led to two revenue failures and a growing $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which begins in July.
Here’s the most recent depressing news: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has announced it’s cutting the Medicaid reimbursement rate by 25 percent effective June 1 because of conservative budget cuts.
According to the authority’s news release on the issue, “The OHCA currently contracts with 46,129 providers. In addition to the 25 percent provider rate cut, the agency will also propose to eliminate payments for coinsurance and deductibles on crossover claims.”
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) April 5, 2016
Here’s another telling sentence in the release: “It is also possible that if the agency’s appropriation is reduced more, additional provider rate cuts will be required.” How low can we go? Well, apparently lower than this. Our conservative politicians don’t care about the elderly or school children. They believe smirkingly and arrogantly in magical theories embedded in widely outlandish conservative ideology and mythology.
According to several news articles about the announcement, many health care providers will have to go out of business, especially in rural areas, and a lot of nursing homes, many of which rely heavily on Medicaid reimbursement from their elderly residents, will have to shut their doors.
Think for a moment about an elderly person who worked all their life, then was forced to liquidate her/his assets because of health reasons as they entered into a managed care system, such as a nursing home, and now are getting thrown out the door. This is the essence of conservative ideology and action in Oklahoma. What’s tragic is many of these elderly people and their children, brainwashed by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, probably voted for the conservative Oklahoma politicians who caused their dilemma.
I wasn’t alive in the 1930s, but surely the state is reaching the level of economic devastation during the time period of The Great Depression given all the grim news pouring out from the state government right now. Just like then, this is all because of specific actions and non-actions by conservative politicians. Back then, it was more on a national level, but it’s all the same thing.
Two men light cigarettes in the doorway of a Hooverville hut in New York during The Great Depression in 1935. pic.twitter.com/jeotxI8gpC
— HISTORY (@HISTORY) April 1, 2016
It took the progressive policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his supporters to get the country out of that mess, and it will take progressive, liberal policies in Oklahoma right now to get us out of the mess.
Not only does the Oklahoma Legislature need to rescind the recent one-quarter of a percent income tax cut targeted to increase the wealth of the state’s richest people it also needs to raise the income tax rate even more to meet our budget needs. If the tax breaks for the wind energy here are getting tossed out or reduced, then the huge tax cuts for the oil and gas industry should get tossed out or reduced as well.
Raise income taxes by a point or so, which will have a limited impact on middle-class earners here, and then cut the major corporate tax breaks. We can revisit our tax structure and economic incentives once we stabilize our budget situation and restore fiscal sanity to our education and health care funding. It has been well documented and reported, for example, that Oklahoma has cut public education funding the most of any state on a percentage-wise basis since 2008. Also, voters should approve State Question 799, which will provide $615 million annually to our education systems here by raising the state sales tax by one penny.
That’s the solution to the issue.That’s truly a sensible and flexible plan that demands little financial sacrifice from ordinary people yet keeps Oklahoma viable and maintains a semblance of its quality of life, but it’s not going happen because conservatives dominate all aspects of the government and life here.
So the only REAL answer, of course, is to sweep out the conservatives in the upcoming November elections. We’ll still have the conservative Gov. Mary Fallin to deal with but a wide Democratic sweep would send her the message that she can act to save our schools and help our elderly in her last years of office with wide support.
For now, Oklahoma’s conservative politicians and their propaganda machines, such as The Oklahoman, are going to try to limit the discussion of their carnage because of the upcoming election, but parents of school children, teachers, government workers, the elderly and their children and unemployed oil and gas industry workers are learning their fate right now through real-life experiences and warnings from their local school leaders, administrators and supervisors.
The reckless, ignorant punishment will be formalized by our conservative politicians at the state Capitol in the next few weeks and then the destruction will be fully public and implemented. Local corporate media outlets here will figuratively turn their heads from the disaster and not report the truth, but don’t think a lot of reporters and editors aren’t going to lose their job in this economic environment as well. They could report the truth and save themselves, but the conservative ownership won’t allow the truth. At that point, people will need to vote for change in November or leave the mediocrity and cruelty of some of the most extremist conservative governance in the country. For educated people, such as teachers, other states are calling for you. Get out and go have a good life. Thanks for your service here and good luck.