MultiCare to lay off 350 employees

Pierce County’s largest private employer, MultiCare Health System, will lay off 300-350 full-time employees by Sept. 30, according to a statement released today by the organization.

MultiCare employs 9,400 people.

The cuts will not be across-the-board cuts, but instead careful, selected reductions in areas where cost-savings opportunities exist. To minimize the need to lay off workers, the organization has asked for volunteers to leave the organization. “We are providing severance packages and health insurance benefits to affected employees and other transitional assistance,” according to the statement.

MultiCare faces major cuts in reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, and has seen more laid-off workers seeking health care who have lost their health insurance due to the struggling economy, according to the statement. MultiCare officials also say state budget cuts for the 2011-2013 biennium that will result in $37.6 million less to MultiCare with $10 million of those cuts occurring in 2011. About half of the patients seen in MultiCare hospitals and clinics use Medicare or Medicaid, therefore cuts to those programs have a significant impact. Also, through May of this year, MultiCare’s Charity Care, which provides care to those in the community who ask for assistance combined with write-offs for patients who cannot pay, are $14.8 million dollars more than the same period last year.

“We have implemented cost-savings programs across our health system and will continue to do so. But we also need to take immediate action to re-size our organization in response to current realities,” according to the statement.