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Oklahoma health boss says $30 million will help fund layoffs

Oklahoma State Department of Health

OKLAHOMA CITY – The acting head of the Oklahoma State Department of Health says a $30 million cash infusion from the Legislature will help pay vendors and fund layoffs at the agency, but that more systemic changes are needed to permanently stabilize the agency after years of mismanagement.

Acting Oklahoma Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger made the comments Monday during more than two hours of testimony before a House panel looking into the agency’s budget problems.

Doerflinger announced last week that 198 employees at the department would be laid off to reduce costs. He says some of the $30 million will be used to give laid-off employees a cash payment equal to 18 months of health insurance premiums.

Doerflinger also urged lawmakers to consider whether that 18-month insurance payment should be required.