Companies Week In Review, June 22

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Okla. Medicaid rates cut 6 pct. for many providers

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s governing board unanimously approved several Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts for providers on Dec. 1. Many medical providers will see 6-percent cuts to the payments they receive on a fee-for-service scale. Nursing homes, where more than 7 of every 10 residents depend on Medicaid, will see a 1-percent cut.

Contract signed for final leg of Oklahoma City Boulevard

Oklahoma transportation officials signed a $27 million contract for the last leg of the Oklahoma City Boulevard project, which is intended to improve downtown’s access to the interstates and alleviate traffic in the area. The project, which began its first round of construction in March 2015, includes a new city street in Interstate 40’s old footprint that will connect E.K. Gaylord Boulevard-Shields Boulevard to new ramps at I-40, I-235 and I-35.

Halfway house contract canceled after inmate death

Lax oversight of inmates at a halfway house in Oklahoma City, including one inmate whose charred remains were discovered in a burned vehicle last month, led state prison officials to cancel its contract with the facility’s operator, the head of Oklahoma’s prison system said. Catalyst Behavioral Services did not conduct inmate counts properly, allowed inmates to come and go without accountability and didn’t have properly trained staff, among other problems, said Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh.

Hay prices falling

The state’s hay supplies are stronger than they were a few years ago when the governor had to grant exemptions for interstate shipping, industry representatives said. Hay is so plentiful this season that prices are being driven down, said Jack Carson, market development coordinator for the state Department of Agriculture.

Attorney general wins first round against drugmakers

Attorney General Mike Hunter can pursue most of his claims against 13 drugmakers, a Cleveland County district judge ruled. Hunter filed a lawsuit on June 30 against 13 pharmaceutical manufacturers and their affiliates. He alleged the drugmakers deceived doctors on potential risks for non-cancer patients using opioids for chronic pain relief.

OKC to buy OG&E land for $14 million

The city will spend $14 million to acquire a downtown block from Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. to build a parking garage, the Oklahoma City Council decided. The 865-space garage will cost $40 million to build once the deal goes through. It is needed to support MAPS 3 development in the Core to Shore area north of the Oklahoma River, in particular a new convention center, hotel, and 70-acre park.

Northcare to run MAPS 3 senior fitness center

The Oklahoma City Council agreed to let North Oklahoma County Mental Health Center Inc. lease and operate one of the MAPS 3 senior wellness centers. The company, doing business as Northcare, will offer a slightly different program at 4021 S. Walker Ave. than the first center, now being run at 11501 N. Rockwell by Healthy Living & Fitness Inc., MAPS project manager David Todd said. Two more centers are scheduled for construction under the $777 million Metropolitan Area Projects sales tax issue.

Harassment claims on the rise in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma workforce is following the lead of women in national politics and the entertainment industry who are bringing allegations of sexual harassment to light, local attorneys said. The culture shift gained momentum Wednesday as Time magazine chose the #MeToo social media event for the magazine’s annual Person of the Year spotlight. Time credited thousands of women across the country for breaking the silence about sexual harassment, which in turn prompted calls for public accountability when people in positions of power step over the line.

Lawsuit seeks class-action status for earthquake damages in Cushing

David Reid is suing oil-field service providers, alleging their business practices damaged his building. The Cushing Citizen newspaper publisher and his wife are two plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking class-action status against five companies with wastewater disposal wells.

Panelists: DACA helps Oklahoma

Although immigration policy can ignite heated discussions, some of Oklahoma’s top business and government officials argued that it all comes down to the numbers. Mass deportation and blocking immigrant workers would mean foreclosed homes, lower tax revenues and a depleted workforce, several people said during a small summit. A consumer mortgage officer, an immigration attorney, the state’s top agriculture official, university presidents and several others voiced their concerns about the Trump administration’s choice against reauthorizing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and other immigration policies.

Gross receipts up for eighth straight month

Gross receipts to the Treasury in November were up 12.4 percent from November 2016. Receipts have been higher than the same month of the previous year for eight consecutive months, said state Treasurer Ken Miller. November gross receipts totaled $893.4 million, up $98.6 million from $794.8 million a year earlier.

Developers race to beat tax reform passage

Developer Brian Green will renovate more than 200 apartment units in 11 cities. But Green’s project could come to a halt if part of the U.S. House of Representatives’ tax reform bill makes the final cut. The bill eliminates the tax-exempt private activity multifamily housing bonds. If private activity bonds are gone, then the 4-percent tax credit would go with it by default because the tax credit is matched with the bonds. Statewide, an elimination of the private activity bonds would take away 1,016 housing units, said Deborah Jenkins, executive director of the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority.

MAPS 3 collections ending $22M over $777M projection

The MAPS 3 temporary penny sales tax has already topped projected collections of $777 million and is heading into the sunset at the end of the year with an overage of more than $22 million, Oklahoma City officials said. David Todd, the city’s MAPS 3 project manager, said a citizens oversight advisory committee has yet to determine how the additional money will be used. By law, it must go toward the goals voters approved in December 2009.

Legislature summoned to Capitol for another try

After weeks of waiting, Gov. Mary Fallin announced her intent to call the year’s second special legislative session, which is slated to begin Dec. 18. On Nov. 17, her office announced she vetoed most of the so-called cash-and-cuts budget, which reduced agency spending by about $50 million and swept more from reserves.

Prison population continues to test limits

The state’s prison system as a whole is packed past capacity, but the women’s institutions are even more so. There are about seven times as many men incarcerated in Oklahoma as there are women. But when the Department of Corrections made its budget request for the next fiscal year, officials asked to increase beds by the same amount for each population. Officials recommended building two medium-security facilities with 2,000 beds, one for women and one for men.

Sayre hospital closes ER

Sayre Community Hospital CEO Robert Hicks said he’s facing a cash flow problem. That caused him to temporarily close the emergency department and divert some patients to hospitals in nearby Elk City or Cheyenne. Some of his issues are unique to reopening a formerly shuttered rural hospital. But part of the money trouble he’s facing is common among all hospitals around the state: Consecutive cuts to Medicaid rates for the last eight years make it harder to break even.

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