State cuts hit hard: service reductions and layoff notices
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Thursday, January 13, 2011
Critical support for mothers, newborns slated for reduction
KING COUNTY, WA -- As a result of the state budget crisis and cuts to Medicaid-funded services, Public Health Seattle & King County will have to reduce services for thousands of vulnerable patients in King County. Today, Public Health sent layoff notices to 123 staff, mostly due to a 50 percent funding reduction to Maternity Support Services (MSS). MSS serves low-income pregnant women and their infants to ensure the best health outcomes possible. Furthermore, if reductions in reimbursement rates for Medicaid services are not reversed by the Legislature over the next few weeks, additional lay-offs will occur and more than 100,000 patients may lose access to care.
"These cuts, as proposed, are devastating. We recognize the challenge that state leaders face in closing the budget gap, but these cuts will have enormous implications for our community, and may lead to the additional loss of federal funds," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "We want to work with the state to reinvent how we protect public health so we can mitigate the impact of these cuts."
"Even in this budget crisis, cutting proven life-saving and cost-saving programs for our most vulnerable residents makes no sense," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County. "Instead, we need to work with the state to develop creative and innovative solutions that allow us to save money while providing services to as many people as possible."
The MSS cut combined with a proposed reduction in Medicaid reimbursement for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) will strip more than $23 million from Public Health Seattle & King County in 2011. These cuts are on top of 2009-2011 reductions totaling $32.9 million and 344 staff positions.
More about staff lay-offs
In response to the MSS reduction, Public Health is eliminating 123 staff positions and nine vacant positions, effective Feb. 28, 2011, including:
- Direct service staff - 87 (includes nurses, social workers, dentists, dental assistants, interpreters, and education specialists)
- Clinic support staff - 24 (includes patient services representatives and health program assistants)
- Central administrative staff and program management - 12 (includes nurse supervisors, administrative supervisors and assistants, program administrators and managers, a finance officer, and an IT system engineer)
MSS provides critical support to at-risk mothers, helping babies start healthy by reducing low birth weights, which can result in long and expensive hospital stays, life-long health problems or even death. In 2009, more than 30,000 women and their babies were served by MSS in King County.
Additional program cuts and lay offs possible
In the December special session, the state cut by one-third its reimbursement for Medicaid services for FQHCs, which are designated clinics that primarily serve Medicaid recipients and people without insurance. In addition to Public Health Centers, there are six other FQHC systems in King County (HealthPoint, Neighborcare Health, SeaMar, Country Doctor, Seattle Indian Health Board and International Community Health Services.)
If this FQHC reduction remains in place, critical health services will be eliminated, clinics will close and additional providers will be laid off. Without public health and community clinics to provide health care, tens of thousands of people will be forced to forgo medical care or go to emergency rooms.
Other state cuts to public health services include the elimination of state tobacco prevention funds, reduction in core state support for public health, and reductions in other Medicaid programs, including adult dental and family planning.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.9 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.