As you recall, last February lawmakers were faced with continued budget shortfalls driven by the reduced economy and greater demand for state services. To balance the budget, they requested further reductions in agency administrative budgets. OHA's reduction was approximately $5 million General Fund. We submitted recommendations on how to meet that reduction earlier this year.
The Legislative Fiscal Office has accepted those recommendations, will be forwarding them to the Legislature and has posted them online (PDF).
Our approach to the reductions followed these principles:
- Be strategic and align administrative reductions with OHA's need to meet the demands of the new Coordinated Care Organizations by better coordinating processes.
- Make the transitions in a way that honors our employees and understands the effect on them and their fellow workers.
Be strategic and align with health system transformation: In making these reductions, OHA leadership focused on how Health System Transformation allows our agency to better coordinate internal processes. As Coordinated Care Organizations work to pull together physical, behavioral and dental health care in their community, the ways in which we serve clients will be pulled together as well. Additionally, we looked to HB 4131's legislatively mandated supervisory management service reduction requirements. That legislation requires larger state agencies to increase management-to-staff ratios if they are below 11-to-1 agencywide. We are reviewing our current ratios and planning options to reach the required ratios.
Make transitions in a way that honors our employees. Meeting the budget cuts requires a reduction of 34 positions across the agency. Many of those positions are vacant, but some positions will be changed or reduced entirely, meaning there could be some layoffs. If the Legislature accepts these recommendations next week, those positions would be identified and affected staff will be notified as soon as possible. I know this will be difficult for the affected staff, their families and co-workers. We will be working with these employees to provide them assistance and guidance.
These budget reductions are not easy. They come at a time when we are also embarking on the critical mission of transforming the Oregon Health Plan. The vision is that reducing waste and inefficiency in the health system will mean savings to the state to help reduce the constant pressure of rising health care costs on our budget. As an agency, we are working very hard every day to make this vision reality. We also know that implementing this change is going to require a talented and engaged workforce. I hope each and every one of you understands that the budget reductions are driven by a lack of dollars and not a lack of belief in the work that you do each day.
Please do not hesitate to ask your supervisor or lead if you have any questions at all. We will keep you updated as we learn more in the coming days.