Kingsport Times News Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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MSHA to cut 161 jobs

January 15th, 2014 1:55 pm by Hank Hayes

MSHA to cut 161 jobs

JOHNSON CITY - Health care provider Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) announced job cuts Wednesday amid “significant reimbursement cuts and volume declines” associated with federal health care reform.

MSHA, in a prepared release, said direct patient care areas will not be part of this cost reduction initiative.

“It is expected that 116 currently filled positions out of approximately 9,000 positions will be directly affected, and another 45 currently vacant positions will be eliminated,” the MSHA release pointed out.

MSHA also said it will utilize its Career Resource Center to provide career services or possible retraining for positions within the health system to avoid immediate layoffs. Affected team members will continue to be employed with their regular pay and benefits for 90 days while MSHA assists their search for employment both inside and outside the organization.

MSHA human resources will also hold a recruitment fair for displaced team members on January 21 to help them find new positions inside the organization.

Salary and benefit changes account for about 25 percent of the total financial impact MSHA is seeking to achieve by making adjustments to fixed overhead and support departments, as well as modifications to certain benefits. MSHA said it will evaluate and pursue operational efficiencies in every aspect of the organization.

MSHA stressed most hospital systems are facing “unprecedented financial challenges” as providers attempt to deal with Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. Just last week, MSHA’s rival Wellmont Health System cited similar market conditions in attempting to partner with another health provider.

MSHA also cited declining in-patient volumes, national health care job losses from federal sequestration, cuts to hospital payments for services provided, cost shifting to hospitals and Medicare beneficiaries, and significant out-of-pocket deductibles that hospitals must attempt to collect from uninsured patients.

MSHA said that while eating $30 million in revenue cuts, Medicaid expansion hasn’t happened. “The lack of coverage expansion has cost Mountain States Health Alliance nearly $20 million annually,” MSHA said.

“Mountain States Health Alliance is a strong organization that is positioned well to manage through these challenges,” said Alan Levine, MSHA’s president and CEO. “But we are not immune to the realities imposed on us. The problem would be dramatically worse for our local hospitals if we didn’t act rationally on an ongoing basis to ensure our cost structure reflects the cuts we are expected to absorb.

“As we deal with these challenges, we must remember that the people who are directly impacted are our friends and our neighbors, and this is very real for them. Even though these folks will continue to be employed while they look for other work, any mandated job change is disruptive and stressful for both workers and their families. Our prayers and thoughts need to be with those who are affected and with those who are tasked with the heavy burden of implementing these steps. It is the last thing we want to see happen, but hospitals are simply left with no choice but to react to these unprecedented challenges.”


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