Yesterday the state economist released the fall revenue forecast showing that the state will have approximately $300 million less for the 2011-2013 biennium than was budgeted last summer. While this news isn't unexpected given our state's economy, it does mean that delivering state services with reduced resources will continue for the foreseeable future.
As discussed last week, OHA and other state agencies have been asked to submit a list of possible General Fund reduction options to the Legislative Fiscal Office. We solicited feedback on the draft list; the final list sent to LFO can be seen here. Thank you to everyone who submitted input.
I want to be clear that there are no proposed reductions on the table today. This is a list requested by the Legislature as a starting point if they need to make statewide reductions in the future, possibly during the February legislative session. This is a prudent move on their part given the new forecast.
As an agency we must continue to be relentless in looking for ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies wherever possible. We will continue the current hiring freeze practices and focus on other ways to prudently reduce administrative costs.
As we continue our work to transform the health care delivery system for better health and lower costs we also must look at our own practices and policies. As I have said in the past, as we ask health care plans and providers for better coordination and waste reduction we cannot just talk the talk. We must walk the walk.
That said, the reality of our budget is that even as we gain further administrative efficiencies, further reductions could mean service cuts. Most of the OHA General Fund budget goes to purchasing health care for those on the Oregon Health Plan and other direct services such as community mental health and for care at Oregon State Hospital.
I know this isn't easy for our staff, our clients, our providers, and our stakeholders. We are all trying to work together to improve the health of Oregonians whether that's in a doctor's office or in our local communities. Our mission is clear at a time when our resources are limited. But we must continue to work together to meet the challenges before us.
Thank you for your continued excellent work. I will continue to keep you posted about the budget situation as things develop.