McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State news

February 15, 2013

Briefly

OKLAHOMA CITY — 2 new flu-related deaths reported in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health says there have been two additional flu-related deaths in the state and 34 more hospitalizations due to influenza.

The health department report released Thursday shows there have now been 25 deaths and 862 hospitalizations since the start of the flu season in September. The season runs through May.

The latest deaths were in Nowata and Washington counties in northeastern Oklahoma.

Tulsa County has had six deaths due to flu while Oklahoma and Comanche counties have each had three. Washington and Pittsburg counties each reported two deaths. Single deaths are reported in Blaine, Cleveland, Creek, Mayes, McIntosh, Nowata, Rogers and Stephens counties.

Medicaid provider to review clients

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The agency that oversees Oklahoma’s Medicaid program will be releasing updated client and financial information.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s board of directors meets Thursday. Chief Executive Officer Mike Fogarty is scheduled to report the status of the agency’s financial condition.

The board will meet about three months after Gov. Mary Fallin rejected the option of expanding the state’s Medicaid program under the nation’s federal health care overhaul law. Fallin said expansion was unaffordable for the state.

The authority says about 17 percent of Oklahoma’s population, or 630,000 people, has no health insurance. It administers a federal health care program for low-income and disabled Oklahomans.

The agency typically serves about 800,000 people, about 65 percent of those children. The agency’s budget is $5.13 billion, including $907 million in state funds.

Okla. Native American Caucus elects leaders

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Legislature’s Native American Caucus has elected its new leaders for the next two legislative sessions.

The caucus announced Wednesday it has elected Republican Rep. Dan Kirby, of Tulsa, and Democratic Rep. Anastasia Pittman, of Oklahoma City, as the co-chairs of the caucus for the 54th Legislature.

Created in 2006, Kirby says the caucus now includes 26 House members who are enrolled members of one of the state’s 39 federally recognized American Indian tribes. The purpose of the caucus is to identify state policies that affect tribes and to foster good communications between tribes and the Legislature.

The bipartisan caucus elects a Republican and Democratic co-chair to lead the group each year. Kirby is a member of the Creek Nation, while Pittman is a member of the Seminole Nation.

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