The impending impact of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the failure of North Carolina leaders to extend Medicaid has led to staff and pay reductions at Halifax Regional.
Halifax Regional President Will Mahone has announced the elimination of 13 jobs as part of a strategic cost-reduction strategy brought on by the implementation of the Act. Also part of the reductions — pay cuts of 2.5 percent for employees and 2.75 percent for management.
“Eliminating jobs and reducing pay is never an easy decision to make,” Mahone said. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality care for our patients while maintaining our financial stability. Our state legislative leaders need to understand that by not expanding Medicaid, service line and staff reductions will become more commonplace at community hospitals and rural community hospitals.”
Of those 13 job reductions, seven were offered jobs at other positions within the medical center, Mahone said. Additionally, Mahone said since October 2012, 72 positions which have become vacant have not been filled, resulting in a net loss of 85 positions in the facility. The total reduction in payroll, Mahone said, comes to around $2 million.
The need for cost saving, Mahone said, does not come as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, but rather on the fact federal Medicare reductions in the Act are not being offset by Medicaid expansion, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states did not have to offer as the Act was implemented.
Mahone said 26 states did not expand Medicaid in the wake of passage of the Affordable Care Act, and hospitals in those states have been losing money.
In addition to the Medicaid issue, Mahone said the reductions were made necessary by state cuts to Medicaid reimbursements, cuts in federal Medicare payments and federal payment cuts brought on by budget sequestration.
Mahone said it’s urgent the North Carolina General Assembly vote to expand Medicaid during implementation of the Act, in order to offset the costs associated with moving toward the Act’s stated goal — a transition from sick care to health care, where emphasis is placed in primary care and prevention rather than treatment.
Without Medicaid expansion, Mahone said, hospitals in rural communities are being hit with cost increases and those are hurting a segment of the population Mahone said is underserved in health care.
“I’m not sure we really understand who the people are who would receive the coverage of expanded Medicaid,” Mahone said.
“Many people think there are individuals who might not be worthy of this coverage, but I believe we will find men with children at home working three or four jobs who had chest pains but are afraid to go to the doctor because they don’t have insurance to pay for it. Medicaid currently covers children and women with children, but less often covers adult women without children and almost never covers males. That single father working three jobs with three children deserves some consideration by our state legislators.”
Even with these reductions, however, Mahone said Halifax Regional is just as committed as ever to providing the best care to its patients.
“We don’t believe these reductions will affect our quality of care,” Mahone said.
“North Carolina is testing its rural hospitals, and they say you’re never as strong as when you’re tested. My employees are strong and I believe they are better than any other hospital employees in the state, and obviously I’m very proud to be working with them.”