Health & Science

Harris Health Approves Budget Proposal, Includes $14 Million Deficit

The Harris Health System approved budget will mean cuts in personnel, but not to school-based clinics.

Harris Health System sign
Harris Health System sign

The vote by Harris Health System’s board of managers was 5-3 in favor of a proposed $1.3 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins in March.

“We’re presenting a true budget,” says George Masi, president and CEO of Harris Health. “We started out with a $71.8 million dollar projected deficit. We’ve gotten that down to 14 million.”

Masi attributed the budget problems to a reduction of about $65 million in federal funds that supplement Medicaid coverage. But some areas, like to school based clinics, were spared.

The proposal includes a reduction of 262 positions: 149 are currently not filled and potential layoffs for 113 current staff members.

“We think it’s a solid proposal,” says Masi. “We have minimal negative impact on the citizens of Harris County who require health care.”

Harris Health System’s Board Chairman Elvin Franklin Jr. says they wanted to minimize the impact of the county’s public safety-net. It is estimated that 1 million residents have no health insurance.

“We hope to have minimal effect onto the community, but we were trying not to take away basic clinical services to our patients — to the population that we serve,” says Franklin.

The budget now goes to Harris County Commissioners Court for final approval.

Editor’s Note: The number of employee positions that may be cut at Harris Health System has been changed from an earlier version of this story to accurately reflect the potential job losses. We regret the error.