Following Federal Funding Boost, Baystate Medical Center Called Upon to Cancel Layoffs

Aug 10, 2011, 15:38 ET from 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

As hospital reaps $17 million, health union says patient services and jobs should be protected

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Aug. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After announcing massive job eliminations and layoffs just last month, Baystate Medical Center is now slated to receive more than $17 million in additional federal funding beginning as early as October 1 of this year.  Members of the state's largest healthcare union, 1199SEIU, say the new funding is a financial "game-changer" for the hospital this year, and have called on Baystate executives to rescind their previously announced plans to eliminate 354 jobs on Friday, August 19

"In a healthcare setting, any job elimination of this magnitude is going to have an impact on patient care services for the community," said Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU, "In light of this new federal funding, Baystate executives need to slow down, consider the impact their previous plans would have on the Springfield community, and rescind the devastating cuts they are proposing to jobs and services."

The $17 million to be received by Baystate is a result of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implementing a new rural wage provision that will bring more than $275 million in combined funds to hospitals across Massachusetts.  Baystate stands to receive a large percentage of these funds based on its high Medicare patient population.

"Even before this adjustment, Baystate has enjoyed considerable financial success, largely as the result of major support from state and federal healthcare sources. In 2010 alone, Baystate posted a profit of $49 million, and has consistently posted operating margins well above other Massachusetts hospitals.  Baystate has exceeded the Massachusetts Hospital Association benchmark for a financially healthy hospital (a 3 percent margin) every year from 2008-2010,"  explained Turner in a letter sent today to Mark Tolosky, President and CEO of BSMC parent company Baystate Health.

Until now, Baystate executives had alleged that a projected $25 million shortfall for 2011 prompted their announcement of the 354 job eliminations that are scheduled to take effect on August 19.  Turner says the new federal funding should come close to eliminating that deficit, and that while the union agrees state reimbursement rates to all hospitals – including Baystate – could be improved, Baystate has a responsibility to the community to reconsider its layoff plans in light of the new federal funding announcement.

With more than 5,000 members in Springfield, 1199SEIU is the fastest growing union in the state and Western Massachusetts.  Baystate Medical Center is a 659-bed academic teaching hospital affiliated with Tufts University Medical Center and is Springfield's largest private employer. 

Representing more than 350,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Washington, D.C., 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America and Massachusetts.  1199SEIU represents more than 42,000 hospital, nursing home, and home care workers in Massachusetts. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.

SOURCE 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East