Meriter officials say layoffs caused by Medicare cuts - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Meriter officials say layoffs caused by Medicare cuts


MADISON (WKOW) -- About 50 people face unemployment, as Meriter Hospital announces layoffs blamed on federal Medicare cuts. The state's hospital association says it's a challenge many Wisconsin hospitals must overcome.

On Tuesday, Meriter spokesperson Mary Reinke said in a statement that about 4 percent of the hospital's 3,500 positions would be eliminated. That's 140 positions cut, but 50 employees affected, because many of those positions are currently vacant. Some of those 50 employees among various departments will be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.

Reinke says the layoffs are a pre-emptive move to offset cuts to Medicare reimbursements put in place by the federal Affordable Care Act.

According to Wisconsin Hospital Association President Steve Brenton, the state's 135 hospitals receive Medicare funding based on the Medicare business they take on. Brenton says Medicare is about 40 percent of most hospitals' business.

The Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare payments to hospitals across Wisconsin by about $2.6 billion over ten years. Brenton says that could mean big cuts to operating budgets at many hospitals like Meriter.

"Our smaller, more rural hospitals tend to be more Medicare dependent than our larger hospitals, but quite frankly I think reductions of this size will affect all of our member organizations," says Brenton.

Meriter is expecting $7 to 8 million less in 2013, with $3.6 million of that coming from Medicare reductions.

In a written statement on Tuesday, Reinke said the hospital is doing what they can to ease the blow for employees--

"We're matching employees from eliminated positions to open positions. And for those who cannot find a home in the new structure, we are providing career assistance and continuing their pay and benefits through the remainder of the year.

We are working to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. Meriter is focused on providing the highest level of health and well-being while at the same time helping control costs, improving efficiencies and providing greater quality.

Although change is not easy, we must embrace change and proactively face this new environment."

Brenton says he hasn't heard of other hospital layoffs in the state, but he fears with less money overall, changes are inevitable. He hopes the budget cuts will not affect patient care. Wisconsin is well known for high quality care, often ranking number one or two in the nation.

Brenton says he's not sure whether coverage improvements under the Affordable Care Act will make up for these financial losses. If a fiscal cliff is not avoided, Brenton says hospitals face an additional 2 percent cut across the board from the Medicare program by January 1st.


MADISON (WKOW) -- As many as 50 people may lose their jobs at Meriter Hospital in Madison.

Meriter spokesperson Mary Reinke tells 27 News that significant cuts in federal Medicare and Medicaid mean all Wisconsin hospitals will see a reduction of $3.6 billion beginning in January.

On Tuesday, employees at Meriter learned of the hospital's plan to reorganize positions in preparation of these cuts. About 50 employees will either lose their jobs or decline to be re-deployed to another position.

Reinke says those positions range throughout the hospital's 3,500 staff members, including management and patient care positions.

In a written statement, Meriter officials say they are doing all they can to help affected employees manage the change.

"We're matching employees from eliminated positions to open positions," says Reinke, in a statement. "And for those who cannot find a home in the new structure, we are providing career assistance and continuing their pay and benefits through the remainder of the year."



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