AnMed Health announced on Wednesday that as many as 94 full-time and part-time workers were laid off, with another 65 vacant positions being eliminated. The AnMed layoffs represent what experts believe will be a growing trend as political uncertainty regarding healthcare policy in the U.S. will likely lead to more healthcare layoffs.
“Several industry trends, including reimbursement declines, softer volumes, and the cost of necessary investments in technology, have resulted in a budgeted loss on operations this year, which is not sustainable,” AnMed Health said in a statement, as reported by Independent Mail.
The AnMed layoffs are a blow not just potentially to the healthcare service, but to Anderson County, SC—where the organization operates—as a whole. The company is the largest employer in the country with around 400 physicians and about 4,000 employees.
Among the employees cut were those operating in radiology, lab technicians, security personnel, marketing, and volunteer services. No physician offices were closed following the healthcare layoffs.
The cuts did reschedule some medical work, however. AnMed’s Physician Surgery Center was closed Monday, with surgeries rescheduled at AnMed Health Medical Center and AnMed Health North Campus. Med-Trans Corp., an air ambulance program, will take over the system’s air ambulance programs as of this year without changing the area covered.
Experts interviewed by the Independent Mail said that cuts like these, where three to five percent of employees were shed, are not uncommon for healthcare layoffs 2017. One expert said that 70 hospitals have made similar reductions across the country.
While a number of factors were cited as to why these AnMed cuts were necessary, among the factors that have aggravated healthcare layoffs in 2017 is political uncertainty in the U.S. The healthcare debate that has raged across partisan lines has caught the nation in a lurch, where people are unsure as to the future of Medicaid, Medicare and, most importantly, the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump tried multiple times this year to repeal the ACA, to no avail. Enough Republican Senates crossed party lines to vote to keep the landmark achievement of the Obama administration, but the continued efforts to end the bill have put many insurance and medical providers in a difficult situation.
Insurance providers have responded by costing out the potential fallout of an Obamacare repeal and have raised premiums as a result. Americans, on the other hand, are equally unsure as to how much will be covered for how long and what government subsidies will remain should the ACA get the ax. As a result, experts said that we’re seeing people become more tentative to go to hospitals, concerned as they are about the bill.
If hospitals receive fewer patients, naturally healthcare layoffs will ensue to compensate for the lack of traffic.
The overall effect is that both businesses and Americans are suffering as a result of the political turmoil, with an uncertain future regarding healthcare in the U.S. leading to less-healthy people and weaker businesses.
But the AnMed layoffs were not exclusively caused by political uncertainty. Many other factors played a contributing role, and in this specific case, potentially more significant than the ACA battle.
The company cited that it has had to ramp up spending in recent years to keep up with national trends in hospitals, like the movement towards paid on performance of measures like hospital re-admissions. Updating digital record systems was another expense that contributed to the decision to make these AnMed layoffs.
Another issue that affected AnMed and amplifies healthcare layoffs in 2017 is the move towards automation. Medical billing experts, for instance, are being replaced by EMRs—electronic medical records.
The AnMed layoffs also come at an inauspicious time for the company. In late September, AnMed paid more than $7.0 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false Medicare claims.
The overall sentiment, however, is that healthcare layoffs in 2017 may very well precede more healthcare layoffs in 2018 as the U.S. grapples with political uncertainty, changing technology, and a healthcare industry that is otherwise not as healthy as it could be.
“AnMed Health Medical Center laying off workers in Anderson,” Independent Mail, November 8, 2017.