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Oklahoma Health Department braces for federal cuts

Oklahoma's health commissioner tells a legislative panel that cuts in federal funds, which make up 60 percent of the agency's budget, could range from 8 to 20 percent. Cuts on the higher end could potentially eliminate services and positions across the state, he said.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: January 29, 2013

“You have all the discussions about the fiscal cliff, you have all these discussions about sequestration, even short of that we are anticipating significant federal cuts,” he said. “The climate, everything that we're being told from our affiliates and partners in the federal government are saying you need to start preparing for these cuts. What they can't tell us is what areas they'll come in. They can't tell us if it would be across the board or if it would be the elimination of certain programs so it makes it very, very challenging to prepare for that.”

The funding formula

Oklahoma is expected to receive about $226 million in federal funds this fiscal year. Legislators have appropriated $62 million for the agency for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The agency also is projected to get about $80 million from its revolving fund.

Cline said the Health Department, which received an additional $1.7 million in state money last year, will seek an additional $700,000 for its infant mortality prevention programs.

Cline said the Health Department may have to seek state funds to make up for significant federal cuts.

“Potentially you could have us coming back to the Legislature depending on the nature of those cuts,” he said. “We may need your help down the road.”