Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today sent a letter to nursing homes and assisted living facilities statewide to inform administrators that taking Medicaid recipients’ COVID-19 stimulus funds is illegal.
According to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the economic impact payments are considered a tax credit, therefore exempt from federal benefits programs such as Medicaid.
Signed by Pres. Donald Trump in March, the CARES Act included $2.2 trillion for emergency assistance to Americans and businesses financially struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attorney General Hunter said his office is monitoring the situation and will take action if necessary.
“My office is hearing complaints from around the country that some of these facilities are requiring their residents receiving Medicaid to sign over their stimulus funds,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Although we have not received any complaints of this nature, we want to advise these facilities this practice is not allowed. If any Oklahoma administrators or facility operators have taken this money from residents receiving Medicaid, we are asking they return the funds. We are also calling on Oklahomans to communicate with loved ones who receive Medicaid and live in these facilities to ensure their payments have been properly handled, if they don’t already know.”
If individuals need more information, they are encouraged to review the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) advisory with additional resources. The FTC’s advisory can be found here: https://bit.ly/3d6th6t.
Read the attorney general’s letter to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, here: https://bit.ly/2M4DNzk.
Eastern students honored with 52nd annual Larry Stone Awards
WILBURTON, Okla. – For the past 52 years, Eastern Oklahoma State College has honored the legacy of a former two-sport athlete and Marine lieutenant who died in combat while on patrol in Vietnam. Although this year’s annual athletics award banquet had to be canceled due to the COVDI-19 pandemic, three Eastern student athletes still received awards named after the late Larry Stone of Jay.
Stone played football and baseball at Eastern in the early 1960s and was known for his unselfish attitude and commitment to his team. It is this lasting impression that prompted a group of his former college teammates and classmates to honor his legacy by presenting the annual Larry Stone Award to a male and female student athlete who exemplifies the same characteristics. A memorial scholarship is also awarded to a student-athlete who will return to Eastern for his or her sophomore year.
Eastern sophomores Kendrie Escoe and Christian McGowan were selected for the 2020 Larry Stone Award on the basis of their overall contributions to the spirit of athletics and their demonstration of teamwork, determination, unselfishness and citizenship. Deja Williams received the Larry Stone Memorial Scholarship.
Escoe is a women's soccer player from Bethany, Okla. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class with a degree in psychology and carried a 3.88 GPA during her time at Eastern. Escoe has committed to continue her academic and athletic career at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
"Kendrie is known as grandma Ken,” said Head Women’s Soccer Coach Justin McCain. “She's always taking care of everyone. She's just an exemplary student athlete. When someone needs something, they go to Kendrie. I couldn't ask for a better leader on the team.”
McGowan is a baseball player from Bokchito, Okla. He graduated with a degree in general studies and earned a 3.6 GPA. While at Eastern, McGowan earned NJCAA National Pitcher of the Week honors, NJCAA Region 2 Pitcher of the Week honors and turned himself into a professional baseball prospect. McGowan has committed to continue his academic and athletic career at Kansas State University.
“Christian is a great personality that never changed as he had success on the field,” said Head Baseball Coach Matt Parker. “Yes, he was a very good player, but he was an even better teammate.”
Williams is a women's basketball player from Manvel, Texas. She maintained a 3.7 GPA for her freshman year while receiving multiple honors. Williams was twice named the NJCAA Region 2 Player of the Week, First Team All-Region, as well as being named an NJCAA All-American Honorable Mention. She will be receiving the Larry Stone Scholarship as she returns to Eastern next fall.
James H. “Jim” Keisman, 81, of Pocola passed away May 26, 2020. He was born July 23, 1938 at home in Huntington, AR, the sixth son of Gus & Farris (Looper) Keisman. He attended school in Huntington and graduated from Mansfield High School in 1956. He was married to Sherry Marie Yates on October 25, 2003 in Pocola. Jim was retired Advertising Director for the Seminole Producer.
Jim spent 42 years in journalism, starting in advertising sales with Fort Smith Times Record in December 1956, Natchez in 1958, and Seminole Producer in 1959. He earned several distinguished awards in advertising and in Lions for volunteer service including the first Dr. Robert D. “Bob” McCullough Meritorious Award from Oklahoma Lions. He was well known for his auctions and donated ‘rocks’ for Lions throughout Oklahoma. He served Lions 57 years, and was District Governor in 1977-1978, Past President and Treasurer for OLSF, and Melvin Jones Fellow, attended 15 International conventions and 4 USA/Canada Forums. He was a member of the Pocola Trinity Baptist Church, Pocola Lions and Lions International lifetime member, and past member of the Oklahoma Press Association.
The hobby for which he received great recognition was his restored parking meters which he purchased entire stocks (over 5000 meters) as nine communities removed them from main streets throughout Oklahoma.
Jim is survived by wife, Sherry Marie; sons, Bryan (Sherry L.) Keisman of Seminole, OK, Brent (Cindy) Keisman of McKinney, TX; brother David (Nancy) Keisman of Ft. Smith, AR; sister, Mary Etta (Dale) Morey of Glendale, AZ; stepchildren, Kathy (Dale) Jetton of Pocola, OK, Joshua (Summer) Cockburn of Heavener, OK; grandchildren, Kimberly Jones, Chris Keisman, Samantha Dunkin, Megan Cooksey, Shelby Taylor, Seth Taylor, Grace Cockburn, Slayde Cockburn, Saint Davis; great grandchildren, Kaylee Jones, Braylen Jones, Rylan Jones, Jameson Dunkin, Kenzie Houck, Aria Jane Dunkin and Noah Cooksey; brother in law, Herb (Laverne) Smotherman. He is preceded in death by his parents; wife, Caroline Smotherman; twin sons, Michael Wayne & Mark Duane Keisman; brothers, Paul & Warren Looper, Oran & Gene Keisman.
Services will be 2 pm Friday, May 29, 2020 at Evans Memorial Chapel in Pocola, OK. Interment will be at Heavener Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be family. Honorary pallbearers will be Oklahoma Lions.
The family will greet friends from 6-8 pm on Thursday evening at Evans & Miller Funeral Home, Pocola.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be sent to the Trinity Baptist Team Kids.
We extend a special thank you to our Pocola Nursing Home family and Advantage Health and Hospice.
** Due to Co-Vid please come to the viewing instead of the service to limit numbers for immediate family.
You may leave an online message at evansandmillerfuneralhomes.com
The family has chosen to entrust the care of the services to Evans & Miller Funeral Home, POCOLA, OK
RICK WEST TO RUN for OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE of REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 3
Many of you know me and know that I am a man of my word. While serving as your State Representative in 2017- 2018, I worked hard to set a new level of accountability for elected officials to our community. I tried to treat you the way I wanted to be treated. That was why I began weekly articles in the local news outlets, spent time on KPRV each week discussing the issues, and kept Friday office hours to listen to people who dropped by. I studied and researched each bill that came up for a vote. I checked to see how people in Leflore County, not big money organizations, wanted me to vote.
It was not easy to ‘vote my district’ each time as it often meant going against “leadership’ or stepping away from solutions I knew might bring other benefits later on. By that I mean that ‘going along’ in the legislature is how members move up in influential committees and power relationships. It was, however, the right thing to do and it let me look everyone back home, right in the eye, and tell the truth about what was happening.
I decided then that I had to be diligent about PAC (Political Action Committees), lobbyist gratuities or special interest money because their influence starts out soft but their aim is to rope you in close so that you work only for them.
I am announcing my candidacy for Oklahoma State Representative, District 3, and I will not take any PAC, lobbyist, or special interest money. I am not a billionaire, or even a millionaire, and I need financial help to do this, but it will have to come from the ordinary people of Leflore County who want me to represent them…and no one else. I will represent my district and no place else.
There are some additional issues that I have outlined as being of importance for Leflore County the next two years. In 2020, the cultural pressure to centralize government and eliminate local input or authority is at the core of most of the upcoming decisions and changes. I believe the best and most productive government is the government that is closest to the people. Therefore, I will work with you to:
- Protect parental control and influence in our schools as well as local decision making by local boards rather than state or federal departments.
- Maintain open lines of defense in the constant battle in OKC to consolidate school districts as the only solution for efficient rural schools.
- Work with our county elected officials and state agencies to create and enforce proven solutions that protect our beautiful, heritage landscape while simultaneously supporting residential and commercial land development.
- Support the unique needs and challenges of our first-responder community.
- Protect large- and small-scale ranching from detrimental and costly regulations.
- Protect Leflore County first responders, their unique skills, and their need for significant supplemental help in order to deliver the fine service that they do every day.
- Support local tourism and all of its related service businesses through state agencies, monies from state tourism, publications and continued outreach to potential audiences for Spiro Mounds, Wister Lake, and Rune Stone Park.
- Support and inform Veterans in Leflore County, as if they are an institution or department, because Vets are one of Leflore County resources.
Because we are living in extraordinary times that have redefined normal communication, I genuinely invite you to contact me with any question or concerns that you might have. Thank you for your support.
Remember, the most important action you can take is to vote for me on June 30th in the Primary and again on Nov. 3rd in the General Election.
God Bless America
47152 Walker Mountain Road, Heavener, OK 74937
WASHINGTON— On Friday, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) joined 16 of his House colleagues to introduce H.Res. 974, a resolution to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's proposed national security law in Hong Kong. The proposed law would ban secession, subversion, and foreign interference, and would radically upend the "one party, two systems" structure. In addition to denouncing the proposal, the resolution calls for the Free World to stand with Hong Kong and states unequivocally the proposal puts Beijing in direct violation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s so-called ‘national security’ law is not only a violation of their previous agreements, it’s also a direct attack on Hong Kong’s freedoms,” Mullin said. “We cannot let the CCP get away with this power grab. I am proud to cosponsor this resolution with my colleagues and stand with Hong Kong in their fight against tyranny.”
“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of liberty,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under U.S. law.”
The resolution was cosponsored by Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) Liz Cheney (R-WY), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Will Hurd (R-TX), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Jim Banks (R-IN), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Chip Roy (R-TX), French Hill (R-AR), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Scott Perry (R-PA), Bill Posey (R-FL), Ron Wright (R-TX), and Randy Weber (R-TX).
Text of the resolution can be found at this link.
Howe Public Schools will be participating in the Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided to the children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, sex, age or disability, and there will no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meals will be provided on a first-come first, serve basis, at the sites and times as follows:
Site: Howe Public Schools
Dates of operation: May 11, 2020- Aug 7, 2020
Operating days of the week: Monday (Grab & Go)
10:00 a.m. - 11 :30 a.m.
Location: 21444 E N Railroad
Howe, Ok 74940
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
by Jennifer Palmer, oklahomawatch.org
The public can now see the dollar amount each school spent educating a child, an important metric for stakeholders for determining equitable funding.
Per-pupil funding has now been added to each school’s state report card. It’s newly required under federal law and Oklahoma is one of about 30 states that has begun displaying the data available for the 2018-19 school year.
Previously, only district-level data on per-pupil spending was available. The school-level data could unmask inequities within districts.
Schools arrive at the dollar amount by adding the total expenditures for a school, plus their share of any district-wide or shared expenditures, and dividing by the number of students. It’s a fairer way to compare schools than total funding because it factors in the size of the school. It counts all spending, regardless of whether the funds came from federal, state or local dollars, and it includes spending on any renovations or new buildings.
Ideally, schools with higher needs should be spending more, said Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.
“We think it’s really important data,” she said. “There’s been a big focus on performance, but without the spending context, we’re missing part of the story.”
Schools that spend the most are often working with special populations, such as at-risk students or incarcerated youth; are very small schools, or are schools with higher local property wealth.
For 2018-19, Oklahoma’s statewide average per-pupil spending was $8,778. Total enrollment that year was nearly 700,000.
Click HERE to see the Oklahoma State Report Card for school year 2018-2019.
Click HERE to search Per Pupil Spending for School Year 2018-2019.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2020, Oklahoma City- Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC)
The Oklahoma State Legislature has approved a proposed new workers’ compensation Medical Fee Schedule submitted by the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) in House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1028. The new Fee Schedule will go into effect July 1, 2020.
The Medical Fee Schedule sets the maximum allowable rates of reimbursement for hospitals and medical services treating workers’ compensation injuries.
“This is the first update of the State’s Fee Schedule since 2012, and the first of what should become a regular, biannual update,” said Commissioner Jordan Russell, who shepherded the schedule through the update process. The 2020 Medical Fee Schedule is available on the WCC’s website 2020 Medical Fee Schedule. Questions about the new Fee Schedule can be emailed to .
“In 2019, the Legislature enabled us to contract with an objective, outside entity to review the maximum fees medical professionals can charge in work injury cases and to update the codes assigned to each medical procedure,” said Commissioner Mark Liotta, Chair of the WCC. Since September 2019, the WCC worked with consulting firm, FAIR Health, to review and update the Fee Schedule. To ensure an impartial review, FAIR Health developed a data-driven approach through regional and nationwide comparisons of Oklahoma’s existing rates. They compared market information from a variety of sources, including public and private payers.
“The WCC provided two 30-day public comment periods to gather information from community stakeholders and to ensure we heard from all affected parties,” said Commissioner Megan Tilly. The first public comment period was held to assess the previous Fee Schedule and to identify areas which needed improvement. The second public comment period was held to receive input regarding the proposed Fee Schedule before its adoption by the three commissioners of the WCC and submission to the Legislature. The new fee schedule was approved by Joint Resolution of both Houses of the Legislature, and it was signed by the Governor last week.
Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system was reformed in 2013, through the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act (Act). The WCC became fully operational for work injury cases on or after February 1, 2014. The WCC provides a forum for work injury hearings and appeals, ensures compliance with relevant statutes by employers, and regulates organizations who wish to self-fund their workers’ compensation obligations.
For additional information, contact:
Director of Communications and Administration
Press Release for Immediate Release
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lundy Kiger, R-Poteau, today accused Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Justin Brown of failing to communicate with Oklahoma daycare owners.
“Director Brown has claimed to me personally how great his organization communicates with daycare businesses,” Kiger said, “but to date, I’m not seeing it, and I have two examples to prove my points.”
Kiger said he posed questions to Brown related to the $50 million DHS received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and how the department decided to spend the money by giving it directly to parents and bypassing daycare businesses that are struggling, with over 850 closing since the first of the year.
“Then, in another move by DHS, the decision was made to make all family members, including step-brothers and sisters, eligible to become daycare businesses and get paid to keep the kids of relatives, many of whom we now have learned were attending a licensed daycare,” Kiger said.
“From what I see in the actions by Director Brown, I’m not sure if he really understands the importance and need for daycares in our state, or if licensed daycares are really a high priority for him,” Kiger said.
He said the most disturbing issues comes from one of the largest daycare associations, made up of licensed daycare owners from all over the state. He said licensed owners in his district have tried to communicate with Director Brown by email, and for weeks they received no reply back and no confirmation that was requested to confirm the email was received by DHS.
Kiger said since Director Brown hasn’t responded, he’s issuing a public list of concerns.
DHS received approximately $50 million from the CARES Act that clearly shows in the funding parameters that the state is to be the first option for using the money. Funds may be used to provide continued payments and assistance to childcare providers in the case of decreased enrollment or closures related to the Coronavirus, and to assure that daycares are able to remain open or to reopen, he said.
There are approximately 38 states providing some type of funding from the CARES Act directly to daycares because they understand if daycares close down there won’t be enough businesses open to take the kids whose parents will be going back to work, he said.
Also, DHS is eligible to use approximately 30% of the $50 million for administrative services. He asked how much of this 30% DHS will keep.
Kiger said the Licensed Child Care Association of Oklahoma (LCCAOK) has spoken with childcare providers across the state to hear their concerns and issues with being able to remain open and to support Oklahoma’s economy.
LCCAOK also has researched what other states across the U.S. are doing in an effort to help support their child care providers. LCCAOK desires to have a joint meeting with DHS, Oklahoma legislators and childcare providers across Oklahoma to determine the best appropriation of funds from the CARES Act to ensure providers can remain in business.
Upon research conducted by LCCAOK, Kiger said it has been discovered that other states are using Child Care & Development Block Grants (CCDBG) and money from the CARES Act specifically to support childcare programs. Oklahoma’s current plan to give unemployed families 60 days of free child care will not help stabilize the childcare industry, he said, and this will cause hardships for providers farther down the road and risk instability to Oklahoma’s workforce and economy.
DHS has stated that the money for the fiscal year has already been allocated and there are no funds to pay enrollment vs. attendance, Kiger said. In response, LCCAOK has constructed a list of 10 items that can be accomplished with the 70% of CARES Act funds that are designated for childcare stability.
Kiger, LCCAOK and other legislators supportive of licensed daycare facilities are calling on DHS to appropriate funding to help providers in the following ways:
- Pay all licensed child care providers $25 per 1/2 licensed capacity per week for 16 weeks. This would be retroactive for the weeks of March 16, 2020, through July 3, 2020. This will exclude Head Starts, tribal-only programs, summer programs, day camps and before- and after-school programs. (This action is based upon support implemented in Virginia.)
- All licensed childcare providers will receive a one-time supply/cleaning stipend based upon licensed capacity. Programs licensed for 25 children or less will receive a $750 stipend. Programs licensed for 26-100 children will receive a $1,500 stipend. Programs licensed for 101 or more will receive a $3,000 stipend. This will exclude Head Starts, tribal-only programs, summer programs, day camps and before- and after-school programs. (This action is based upon support implemented in Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Kansas and New York.)
- Licensed childcare programs that remained open during this time will receive a one-time stipend based on licensed capacity for the additional operating costs and providing care to essential workers. Programs licensed for 25 children or less will receive a $750 stipend. Programs licensed for 26-100 children will receive a $1,500 stipend. Programs licensed for 101 or more will receive a $3,000 stipend. This will exclude programs that were not open during the pandemic, Head Starts, tribal-only programs, summer programs, day camps and before- and after-school programs. (This action is based upon support being offered by Louisiana, Massachusetts and Tennessee.)
- Licensed child care programs that remained open during this time will receive a one-time stipend of $500 per full-time employee to be issued to teachers as a hazard pay for working. Full time employees include, but are not limited to family home providers, owners, directors, staff and any other employee who works at least 30 hours per week. This will exclude programs that were not open during this pandemic, Head Starts, tribal-only programs, summer programs, day camps and before- and after-school programs. (This action is based upon support being offered by North Carolina.)
- Parent copays will be waived for the months of May and June. (This action is based upon support being offered by Florida, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.)
- Ensure that DHS will not use more than 30% of the money allocated by the CARES Act for administrative use. The remaining 70% of funds will be allocated directly to child care providers.
- DHS will undergo a voluntary audit of CCDBG and CARES Act funds.
- Due to the current situation, DHS will put on hold any plans to implement the Pyramid Model, QRIS 5-Star or any other new project for at least two years. In addition, there should be no increase of staffing towards these programs and currently employed staff for these projects should move to currently open positions or the position should be eliminated. No new positions will be created. This will ensure that no money from the CARES Act is used to fund additional agency programs.
- Due to the current situation, the required three yearly visits to programs shall include accreditation visits, CACFP reviews, tribal visits, fire inspections and health inspections.
- Due to the numerous licensed childcare providers who have openings for children, all unlicensed and “pop-up” programs will be prohibited beginning immediately.
The term “program” refers to any licensed childcare provider. This includes family home programs and center programs. This also refers to providers who accept private pay and/or subsidy payments.
LCCAOK believes that there is adequate funding to implement these changes. This funding will come from the $50 million from the CARES Act. Additional funding should remain from the current fiscal year’s CCDBG funds due to the decreased amount of subsidy payments being made for the months of March, April and May.
LCCAOK requested a written response by DHS confirming its letter has been received by 11:00 a.m. May 6, 2020. Additionally LCCAOK formally requested a response and action to its letter no later than 11:00 a.m. May 15, 2020. Of course both of these dates passed without response from Director Brown, Kiger said.
Again, LCCAOK formally requested a Zoom meeting with DHS, Oklahoma legislators and childcare provider organizations to discuss funding options that will not solely benefit unemployed families, but ALL families and childcare providers in Oklahoma as Oklahoma repairs its economy.
“A working childcare industry is critical for the economy to get back to previous levels,” Kiger said. “Our childcare providers make it possible for Oklahoman's to work.”
As of this advisory, the State of Oklahoma has reported a total of 6,137 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Since our last Situation Report, the following number of positive cases were published daily at coronavirus.health.ok.gov:
- Saturday – 111 new positives for a total of 5,960
- Sunday – 77 new positives for a total of 6,037
- Monday – 53 new positives for a total of 6,090
- Tuesday – 47 new positives for a total of 6,137
There are seven additional deaths; zero of them occurred in the past 24 hours all died between May 22-May 24.
- Two in Oklahoma County, one male in the 65 and older age group and one female in the 65 and older age group.
- Three in Tulsa County, one male in the 65 and older age group, one female in the 65 and older age group and one male in the 50-64 age group.
- One in Grady County, a female in the 36-49 age group.
- One in Jackson County, a male in the 65 and older age group.
There are 318 total deaths in the state.
COVID-19 testing sites are open in multiple cities in Oklahoma as a result of a cross-county, city and state health system partnership. Visit this page for updated dates and locations.
For more information, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov.
COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results
Confirmed Positive Cases 6,137
*Total Cumulative Negative Specimens to Date (As of 5/22) 153,804
*Total Cumulative Number of Specimens to Date (As of 5/22) 160,903
**Currently Hospitalized (As of 5/22) 174
Total Cumulative Hospitalizations 941
Deaths in the Past 24 hours 0
Total Cumulative Deaths 318
*The total includes laboratory information provided to OSDH at the time of the report. Total counts may not reflect unique individuals.
**This number is a combination of hospitalized positive cases and hospitalized persons under investigation, as reported by hospitals at the time of the report. The data reflect a change in calculation and should not be compared to prior data.
Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
*As of 2020-05-26 at 7:00 a.m.