Ministry Health to cut 2 percent of its workforce - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Ministry Health to cut 2 percent of its workforce

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MILWAUKEE (WAOW) - Ministry Health Care says it is eliminating about 2 percent of its workforce due to declining business and a reduction in Medicare payments because of federal budget cuts forced by the so-called sequestration.

Ministry employs more than 12,000 workers in its 47 clinics and 15 hospitals in Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota. Its central Wisconsin operations are in Weston, Marshfield, Stevens Point and Merrill.

Tuesday's announcement comes just weeks after Ministry merged with St. Louis-based Ascension Health, which says it is the largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system in the nation.

Geoffrey Huys, a spokesman for Ministry in Weston, said 225 to 250 full-time equivalent jobs will be eliminated from all of its operations in the cuts announced Tuesday.

"We hope to achieve the reductions through a combination of attrition and job eliminations," he said in response to email questions.

No details of when the reductions would begin or what type of jobs would be lost were immediately released.

Ministry said it employs about 650 doctors and "advanced practice clinicians."

Nick Desien,  Ministry's president and chief executive officer, said a key factor in Tuesday's announcement was high-deductible health insurance plans that have led to decreased demand for doctor and outpatient services.

He did not specify the drop in demand for those services.

Desien said federal sequestration has cost Ministry a $10 million "annual reduction" in payments for Medicare services.

"We are, in effect, re-establishing the basis for staffing across our healthcare system at a time when the environment in which we work continues to change at an ever-increasing rate," Desien said in a statement. "Our mission calls us to use innovation and creativity to provide the best care possible to our patients while also being good stewards of our resources."

Ministry said it serves more than 1.1 million people and generates nearly $2.2 billion in annual operating revenue.

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