Health Department Announces Budget Cuts

(Little Rock) — The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has announced today a specific plan for the $3,631,885 in budget cuts that had been asked for by Governor Beebe last week. “This has been a very careful process that we have followed, as we looked at the areas where we felt  that we can postpone or reschedule projects that we would very much like to do, but simply cannot afford right now,” said Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, Director of Health and State Health Officer. “We will come through this, knowing we are doing what we must to ensure that our mission to improve and protect the health of Arkansans continues in the best way possible, given that economic circumstances are very difficult.”

Of the total amount, $1,803,620 was allotted in B1 allocation of the Revenue Stabilization Law, which was intended to be split evenly between the Trauma System’s Emergency Service providers/defibrillators and the Arkansas Community Health Centers for one time needs.  Due to the uncertainty of the economy, the Department deferred distributing this allocation while communicating this plan to the stakeholders involved.  As a result of this conservative approach to budgeting, the reduction of the B1 allocation will have no direct negative impact on established programs.

The Department further reduced general revenue allocations by $1,828,265 in the following manner:
·        A 1% reduction ($628,265) was taken in all Centers by committing to delay hiring in non-critical positions; reduction in conference travel and training budgets; reduction in Operating Expenses; and the reduction of vacant, non-critical positions.  The Department has evenly spread this reduction across Centers, with the exception of our field services.  There will be no reductions in staffing that serve our state through the local health units.

·        Salary savings ($261,000) accruing to the Trauma System will occur as the hiring processes move forward to staff this new initiative.   The Department is fully committed to establishing a Trauma System, with efforts well underway to fund the network of 71 hospitals that have expressed a desire to become a trauma center; to provide for a statewide communication plan for EMS providers; to develop a trauma registry; to provide for support of 155 ground ambulances and 7 air ambulances; and to provide for a medical director and technical assistance for the Trauma System.

·        A 1% reduction will be taken in the grants supporting the Community Health Centers ($100,000) and the Charitable Clinics ($10,000).    Grants were awarded to 12 Community Health Centers, and 21 Charitable Clinics.   An evaluation of the impact of this reduction will be forthcoming as adjustments are made to grant award budgets.  However, due to the initial stages of these initiatives, it is felt that relatively minimal impact will be realized.

·        A 1% reduction for supplies ($29,000) for the flu immunization program will be taken.  The actual flu vaccine has already been purchased, and is in the process of being distributed statewide through school based clinics and mass county clinics.

·        Reductions in the health initiatives funded through the Tobacco Tax will be taken in areas that have had no final decisions made in implementing programs, and the Department is committed to making diligent efforts to assure that plans can be implemented at the earliest possible date.

Ø      Cancer Coalition – $200,000
Ø      Infant Autopsy Review – $300,000
Ø      Stroke – $300,000
Plans for the Cancer Coalition partners are nearing completion, and the remaining $1.8 million should provide adequately for these plans between now and June 30.  Infant Autopsy Review plans include actions that will not require funding this fiscal year.  Funding for the Stroke Care Task Force was to be utilized to add stroke collection components for the proposed statewide trauma system data collection that has not been fully developed.