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Trump administration considers mental health coverage option

Amid the outcry over the Florida school shootings, the Trump administration says it is “actively exploring” ways to help states expand inpatient mental health treatment using Medicaid funds.

President Donald Trump again brought up the issue of mental hospitals in a meeting with governors on Monday, invoking a time when states maintained facilities for mentally ill and developmentally disabled people.

“In the old days, you would put him into a mental institution,” Trump said, apparently referring to alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz, whose troubling behavior prompted people close to him to plead for help from authorities, without success.

“We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions ...we have nothing between a prison and leaving him at his house, which we can’t do anymore.”

Organizations representing state officials and people with mental illness say no one wants to go back to warehousing patients.

But they also say that federal action is needed to reverse a decades-old law known as the “IMD exclusion,” which bars Medicaid from paying for treatment in mental health facilities with more than 16 beds.

IMD stands for “institution for mental diseases.”

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  • A male pedestrian was hit and killed Saturday night while crossing the street in Tulsa. An officer at the scene tells KRMG the auto-pedestrian collision happened around 11:10 p.m. in the westbound lanes of 71st Street near Trenton Avenue. “A black truck comes through and strikes him,” the officer said.  “Then continues on westbound and we were not able to get a good description of the vehicle.” The pedestrian was transported to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.  As of early Sunday morning, the victim hasn't been identified. KRMG’s told the scene was closed to traffic until around 2 a.m. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.  
  • A 37-year-old Broken Arrow man faces a long list of sexual-related charges in connection with having an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.  Court records show Larado Smith was charged on Friday with 12 counts of second-degree rape and three counts of forcible sodomy.  Tulsa World reports the sexual acts apparently happened at the girl's home when her parents were not home.  When police found out about what was going on, a sting was set up. They posed as the girl over social media.    Smith showed up at the teenager's home and was arrested.  He has been booked into the Tulsa County Jail.  
  • As President Donald Trump this week threatened $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports, and then warned Europe that he would slap a 20 percent tariff on imported automobiles, members of both parties Congress accused the administration of starting a trade war which could cause collateral economic damage across the United States. The differences were on display at a hearing Wednesday with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who took a bipartisan tongue lashing on a recent round of tariffs levied on imported steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe. “We’re picking winners and losers,” argued Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who said those tariffs were already hurting businesses in his home state. “Probably resulting – in my view – in far more jobs being lost than being gained,” Toomey told Ross, citing a very well-known Pennsylvania company that could find it less expensive to move jobs from the U.S. to Canada. Sen. @PatToomey tells Ross that $KHZ moved some @HeinzKetchup_US manufacturing to Pennsylvania from Canada – but could move back now that Canada plans to tax American ketchup as retaliation for steel and aluminum tariffs. — Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) June 20, 2018 Almost every Senator on the panel had a story of a small business that was feeling the pinch due to Trump Administration tariffs, impacting all sorts of agricultural products, as well as manufacturing, big and small. “Do you think we’re in a trade war right now?” asked Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “Because I do,” as Cantwell rattled off farm products that were losing markets because of retaliatory tariff measures. Ross downplayed the cost of higher imported steel and aluminum, basically making the case that economic hardships were being overplayed. “It’s a fraction of a penny on a can of Campbell’s soup, it’s a fraction on a can of Budweiser, it’s a fraction on a can of Coke,” Ross said. That did not please the Senator from the state of Coca-Cola. “Although a couple of pennies on a can is not much, a couple pennies times a billion is lots,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). “We’re hit harder than any other state by the Canadian retaliatory tariffs,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), warning the Trump Administration against tariffs on imported automobiles, as GOP Senators labeled such actions a tax on consumers. “Steel prices are going up – not just for foreign steel subject to tariffs, but also for U.S. steel,” complained Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “Mexico’s buying their wheat from Argentina and their corn from Brazil,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), as he told Ross that Kansas wheat exports were encountering troubles because of new retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, bringing bad economic news on the farm report. Ross simply told Senators if other countries put new tariffs on U.S. exports, that was out of his control. “We have no control over what another country does in retaliation,” Ross said. The bipartisan complaints clearly had no impact, as by Friday, President Trump was on Twitter, issuing new threats against European auto imports. Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the U.S. & its great companies and workers by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20% Tariff on all of their cars coming into the U.S. Build them here! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2018 As Democrats registered their opposition, they also couldn’t help but note the oddity of a Republican President going against what’s been a bedrock belief of the GOP. “I feel like I’ve gone down a rabbit hole,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), who said she found it hard to believe the party of free trade now had a President in office who was doing the exact opposite. “In a chaotic and frankly incompetent manner, you’re picking winners and losers,” McCaskill told Ross. But for the President, this is about re-setting trade deals, which he says were tilted against the United States. #President #Trump #speaking in #Duluth, #Minnesota: We want fair & reciprocal #trade not stupid trade that we've had for years. We've been ripped off by all of our friends. And frankly the do a much better job than our enemies. #MAGA #economy #POTUS #TrumpTrain — Leanne Howard Kenney (@neeneebucket) June 21, 2018 “As far as trade is concerned with other countries, we want fair and reciprocal trade, we don’t want stupid trade like we had for so long,” the President said at a rally in Minnesota. “Remember the world reciprocal,” Mr. Trump said. “We have been ripped off by almost every country on Earth, our friends and our enemies.” “But those days are over,” the President said to cheers from the crowd. But while they’re cheering Mr. Trump on the stump, at the U.S. Capitol, they’re worried about a trade war. “We’re getting into a war that’s going to cost lots of billions of dollars,” Isakson warned.
  • There was a big setback for the group challenging the tax hikes to pay for teacher pay raises on Friday. The Oklahoma Supreme Court said the petition from Oklahoma Taxpayers United is invalid. Oklahoma's highest court handed down the ruling Friday morning and ordered that the initiative not appear on an election ballot. Justices said the wording of the petition is misleading and those who sign it don't know what they would vote on. The Legislature earlier this year voted to hike taxes on cigarettes, fuel and energy production.
  • A national medical group Thursday abruptly canceled its plans to train doctors about marijuana for pain relief after a federal agency pulled its funding. The episode highlights an ongoing conflict between federal and state laws on marijuana. The American Academy of Pain Medicine scrubbed its plans for a one-hour online course next month after a request from the U.S. government agency that provided the funding, a spokeswoman for the pain medicine group said. The money came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA. “We cannot speak to the reason that SAMHSA has asked that we not proceed with this webinar, but the webinar will no longer take place,” spokeswoman Megan Drumm in an email Thursday. The group had informed a coalition of medical groups overseeing the government money about the course title and its learning objectives, Drumm said. But after an inquiry from The Associated Press this week, the federal agency said the coalition that gave the grant would no longer take part.