OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) –The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced their financial plan in the wake of Oklahoma's budget shortcomings.
Since 2009, OSDH says they've lost 25 percent in state funding. Dropping them from $75 million to $56 million per year. Included in the cut is the $4.2 million that must be taken out of their budget by June 20, 2016.
The $4.2 million reduction this year means OSDH will completely remove funding to the following: Federally Qualified Health Centers, which establishes new clinic sites and helps pay the medical bills for uninsured Oklahomans; establishing a Cord Blood Bank, which would umbilical cord blood that can be used at a later date to help save lives; the service of dental health education. Colorectal cancer screening funding will be cut in half for uninsured Oklahomans.
However, because March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, Altus and Duncan is offering free screening kits. You can go to any of the locations to pick up yours or to learn about your screening options.
"The Oklahoma State Board of Health is responsible for protecting and promoting the health of all Oklahomans, while at the same time meeting all statutory responsibilities," said board president Dr. Ronald Woodson. "We have faith that OSDH administration and employees will continue to deliver the highest level of public service possible under what will be trying circumstances. However, there will be real consequences to these reductions in preventive services including increased disease, avoidable treatment costs and tragically an increased risk of death."
OSDH has recommended closing between five and seven county health departments. They say care will still be available to those areas if the patient is able to drive to a regional clinic.
Funding for Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention services will be eliminated starting fiscal year 2017.
They are also hoping to eliminate 90 positions through retirement incentives for eligible employees.