Operators of the Mercy health system are looking to lay off up to 300 people in four states this month, citing less money coming into the health care system because of reductions in insurance payments and a lack of Medicaid expansion in most of the states the hospital system serves.
“Like all health care providers, Mercy is managing the impact of market changes, including reimbursement reductions from government and commercial payers, lack of Medicaid expansion in most of the states we serve and declining inpatient utilization,” Mercy spokeswoman Barb Meyer said in a statement. “We have been expecting and preparing for these changes for several years and have made tremendous progress in redesigning the health delivery system to meet evolving needs.”
The specific number of layoffs that Mercy will make in Oklahoma has not been announced. Hospital leaders said they may know those numbers next week, although they anticipate a minimal impact.
Mercy is the sixth-largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and the 20th-largest nonprofit health care system in the country, company officials said.
The Mercy health system includes 33 acute-care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals, one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 employees and more than 2,100 Mercy clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Among the four states where Mercy has hospitals, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri are not expanding their Medicaid programs, a key element of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare.
Gov. Mary Fallin has said Oklahoma will not expand its Medicaid program because it would be too costly.
In Oklahoma, about 140,000 adults would have qualified for coverage if the state had expanded its Medicaid program, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.
Under the current Medicaid program, unmarried, childless adults rarely qualify for coverage in the state’s Medicaid program. The majority of people enrolled in SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, are children, according to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s program.
Meyer said the layoffs will not be made in positions related to direct patient care. Rather, affected departments are in support functions.
“We recognize the impact of these workforce reductions on our co-workers and our transition plan will reflect our commitment to dignity and compassion,” Meyer said.