Monday, June 26, 2017
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Highlands Medical Center eliminates positions

Highlands Medical Center eliminated 26 positions on Wednesday.

In addition to those, there are six vacant positions that will not be filled. 

Dr. Lonnie Albin, the Chief Executive Officer of Highlands Medical Center, attributed the authority reduction in force to a confluence of several factors involving declining reimbursement from payers and reduced patient admissions. In 2015, the State of Alabama chose not to expand Medicaid, which would have allowed more coverage for uninsured in Jackson County. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion was intended to offset Medicare payment reductions included in the law. 

"In order to continue to provide care for patients in Jackson County, maintain and improve hospital facilities, stay on track with the latest healthcare technologies, and sustain compliance and regulatory requirements, these cuts have to be made", said Albin. " We do not know what the future holds related to government changes. These decisions are made based on what we currently have to work under and we certainly have to act. For us, these are our colleagues, our employees, our friends. We're a very close knit family, so this is an extremely difficult decision to make. Health systems have been hit with reductions in Medicare reimbursement rates as well as the sequester cuts of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and Affordable Care Act," he said. The cost of providing healthcare has risen drastically in recent years. We are receiving reduced payments from Medicare for the care we provide, while at the same time we are treating an increasing number of uninsured and underinsured patients.”

Hospitals across the state of Alabama and nation are having to evaluate their operations in order to sustain their viability in their particular communities. Similar layoffs have/and are occurring across the state. In fact, there have been 10 hospitals in Alabama that have closed in the last 5 years. Albin expressed what an importance Highlands Medical Center is to our local community and economy.“ It would be a travesty for us to potentially lose our hospital. That’s why we have to make these tough decisions. We are continually working to improve the hospital's financial position while improving overall healthcare delivery and efficiencies. We are looking at all avenues to reduce costs and remain a viable healthcare provider for Jackson County.”

“No services have been changed,” he said. “Patients will be unaffected by the employment changes. We will do whatever it takes, including making hard decisions, to remain a valuable healthcare resource for our community. Patient care remains our top priority.”

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