Over the next two weeks, several organizations across Oklahoma will receive letters explaining why they might soon receive less federal grant money.
The state Health Department anticipates that, because of automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration, it will see a reduction in the amount of grant money that it has available for the 2013 fiscal year.
Because of that reduction, the agency is alerting its federal grant recipients that, although the specific details aren't known, organizations might see a reduction in the amount of grant money they receive.
“I don't think anybody has ever seen anything like this,” said Dr. Ronald Woodson, the state Board of Health vice president. “And nobody really knows what's going to happen, and the scenario changes by the week at the federal level.”
The process known as sequestration relates to a federal law known as the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The law mandated that if Congress could not reach a budget agreement, the federal budget deficit had to be reduced by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the Health Department.
The deadline for lawmakers to reach that agreement was March 1, which they did not meet.
Some Republican lawmakers have argued the Obama administration is using scare tactics and overstating the potential threat of sequestration.
Because of automatic federal spending cuts, or the sequester, the state Health Department anticipates it will see a 5 percent reduction in the money it receives from the federal government for its 2013 fiscal year.
The White House recently released a document regarding the potential impact of cuts.
For Oklahoma, the White House estimates that about 1,490 children will not receive vaccines; that Oklahoma will lose about $358,000 in money to respond to public health threats, such as infectious disease outbreaks and natural disasters; and that Oklahoma will lose about $298,000 to provide meals for older residents.
I don't think anybody has ever seen anything like this. And nobody really knows what's going to happen, and the scenario changes by the week at the federal level.”
Dr. Ronald Woodson,
state Board of Health vice president