Oklahoma State Department of Health layoffs are being coupled with Reduction in Force (RIF) policies in order to help the state save millions to cover costs and repair its budget.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health layoffs will eliminate 37 unclassified employees, while the RIF policies will mean furloughs and mandatory days off will be implemented in March 2018, affecting 161 unclassified positions.
The department is making these moves after it ended a recent furlough program that mandated employees earning over $35,000 a year in salary, including executives, were required to take one day off per pay period. The program began on October 29 and will conclude next week.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health layoffs will include administrative officers, administrative technicians, social service specialists, patient care assistants, and registered nurses, among others.
The employees affected by the RIF policies were notified last week.
The end goal of the RIF policies and layoffs is to save the state $3.0 million, with projections hoping that, when all is said and done, the state will retain $10.0 million in annual savings.
The overall hope is that these moves will help close the gap between where the state needs the budget to be and where it is currently.
Many health departments across the country are facing similar cutbacks as the rising cost of healthcare continues to put pressure on state governments to find a way afford rising healthcare prices.
One of the concerns facing many state health departments is the future of the Affordable Care Act. While the Republican Senate and President Donald Trump were unable to outright repeal the ACA, the GOP tax plan that just passed through Congress has some provisions that will negatively impact the ACA, potentially leading to rising premiums or, in a worst-case scenario, a collapse of the exchange that the act relies on.
The overall result could be an increase in healthcare costs across the country on top of the already exorbitant prices, leading to further reductions in state health departments and the industry as a whole.
“State health department to cut local jobs,” The Altus Times, December 19, 2017.