Medicaid cuts put pressure on community hospitals

Steep and continued cuts to Arizona's Medicaid program have forced a major hospital in the southwestern portion of the state to cut positions and benefits, reported the Yuma Sun.

Altogether, the Yuma Regional Medical Center is cutting 135 jobs--about 6 percent of its workforce, according to the Sun. The positions being eliminated include those relevant to ongoing patient safety, such as workers assigned to prevent patients from falling.

According to hospital CEO Pat Walz, the hospital was hit particularly hard by recent cuts to the state's Medicaid program. As a result, the hospital's charity care load doubled in the past year, to about $40 million, noted the article.

The Arizona Health Care Cost and Containment System, the state's Medicaid program, endured two 5 percent cuts to reimbursement sin the past year--in addition to rates being frozen for the past four years. The state's hospital association estimates Medicaid covers only about two-thirds of the cost of caring for each patient, according to the Douglas Dispatch.

In Douglas, Southeast Arizona Medical Center is operating without a cash reserve, the Dispatch reported.

In addition to the cuts in personnel, Yuma Regional also is freezing contributions to employee pensions and moving them to a 401(k) plan, according to the Sun.

For more:
- read the Yuma Sun article
- here's the Douglas Dispatch article

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