Oklahoma health officials warn of dire budget consequences

Oklahoma health officials warn of dire budget consequences

By The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma health officials are warning of dire consequences to state health care infrastructure if lawmakers can't agree on how to plug an estimated $215 million budget hole.

That's how much a $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee was supposed to generate before the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

The money was earmarked for Oklahoma's major health care agencies. Department of Human Services spokeswoman Sheree Powell says the state's Advantage program that provides in-home services to the elderly and disabled likely will be slashed. The program keeps older and disabled people out of nursing homes

And the state's Medicaid agency has announced plans to cut reimbursement rates to health care providers by 9 percent to make up for the loss of funding.

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