The Duncan Banner

September 15, 2013

Less scare talk on ACA, more focus on education

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — During this endless summer, it seems the sticky notes that serve as my memory are particularly sticky:

The Affordable Care Act is a complex piece of legislation and 99 percent of us will never understand every component of this first attempt at national health care. But it doesn’t help in trying to get a grasp on the ACA when Oklahoma politicians continually play the “scare card.”

Gov. Mary Fallin is a vocal opponent of the act, who thus far refuses to accept federal funds to be used to transition the legislation in Oklahoma. And Insurance Commissioner John Doak has criss-crossed the state telling Oklahomans their insurance premiums will be driven sky high by the act.

Fallin and Doak have continued this mantra despite the findings of the Republican-affiliated Leavitt Partners, who the governor paid a half-million dollars to assess setting up the state’s health insurance exchange. Leavitt’s advice: Accept funds from the Affordable Care Act.

When the Kaiser Commission, a non-partisan commission on Medicaid and the uninsured, said the Affordable Care Act would save the state $205 million, Fallin and Doak apparently turned a deaf ear.

It’s possible the ACA will be the disaster Fallin and Doak suggest. It’s also possible it won’t, but we won’t know until it’s in place and has been fine-tuned over the course of several years.

Hasn’t that been the case with nearly every important piece of legislation passed in American history?

n Gov. Fallin might spend less time demonizing the Affordable Care Act and direct her attention to the teetering condition of Oklahoma’s public education system, which is in danger of retreating from the positive strides taken in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Oklahoma has slashed per-pupil spending by 22.8 percent since 2008, which is more than in all but two states. The policy research organization says restoring school funding should be an “urgent priority,” but it’s difficult to detect any sense of urgency from Fallin or State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

n That’s enough politics to last me six months. Let’s talk about something really important, like, music. Two intriguing new vocal and song-writing talents I’d recommend: Valerie June, a Memphis girl, and Australian folk-rocker Matt Corby.

On her new album, Pushin’ Against A Stone, multi-instrumentalist Valerie June mixes folk, blues, gospel, soul, country and bluegrass with a voice that grows on you. Corby, who’s fourth EP, Into The Flame, came out in 2012, has one of those multi-octave voices that leaves you thinking, “Man, I wish I could sing like that.”

n “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. “It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.” Mark Twain said it.

n I love chocolate and bacon is high on my like list. But cookies that combine chocolate chips and bacon bits? Eeewww!

n What were the most popular male and female names for newborns in the USofA in 2012? According to the Social Security Administration, most popular boy’s name was Jacob; most popular girl’s name was Sophia. It’s the 14th straight year Jacob has led the boys top 10 and the second year for Sophia. The hottest new names on the list are Liam for boys and Elizabeth for girls.

n “There is world-class journalism in places, but on the whole we are obsessed with polls and, increasingly, with ourselves. That’s particularly true in broadcast journalism.” Bill Moyers said it.

n Every band eventually needs a break. So it is with the red dirt quartet No Justice, which is parting ways — at least, for a while — after 12 years and five progressively interesting albums. Steve Rice, a Duncan-born founding member of the Stillwater group, says the guys want to work on individual projects.

n Maybe I’m just cynical, but someone who continually says “I can’t” probably shouldn’t.

n According to some medical scientists, forgetting why you’ve walked into a room isn’t a sign of Alzheimer’s, it’s a syndrome called age-related memory loss and it may be reversed or prevented. That’s good news, because I was concerned about ... uh, whatever it was I was concerned about.