The state Health Department could lose millions of federal dollars if Congress cannot reach a budget agreement by March 1.
If a process known as sequestration commences, the state Health Department could lose an estimated $9.4 million in federal money that's leveraged with about $490,000 in state-appropriated matching funds.
Casualties also could include a loss of 17 jobs at the state Health Department and 10 at state contractor locations.
Julie Cox-Cain, the chief operating officer at the state Health Department, said these are the most severe budget cuts she has seen in her 22 years at the department.
“We do have systems in place to try to protect people and prevent disease every day that is hidden to people because it is prevention, but it's really necessary in order to keep diseases from plaguing our community,” Cox-Kain said. “We're preventing things every day, and continued reductions have the possibility of hindering that or becoming a real problem for us.”
The process known as sequestration relates to a federal law known as the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The law mandated that the federal budget deficit had to be reduced by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the state Health Department.
The deadline for lawmakers to reach that agreement has been postponed to March 1.
Unless the deadline is either moved or an agreement is reached, $1 trillion in automatic cuts will commence.
If sequestration commences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will see budget cuts that could trickle down to Oklahoma, including at the state Health Department.
The state of Oklahoma provides about 16 percent of the state Health Department's budget.