St. Vincent layoffs signify uncertainty in health care market

St. Vincent Health's restructuring announcement this week did not come as a surprise.
Published: .
Updated: .

St. Vincent Health's restructuring announcement this week did not come as a surprise. The 22-hospital system currently employs more than 3,000 physicians and 16,000 other employees.

St. Vincent CEO Vincent Caponi issued a brief statement saying, "To sustain our health system's service to patients and families across the state, we must re-imagine the way we provide holistic care-body, mind and spirit."

The St. Vincent announcement is really the latest installment by hospitals trying to deal with the uncertainty to come. The Affordable Health Care Act is rolling like a freight train and at this point hospitals are not sure what that will mean.

Indiana already stands to lose $340 million in Medicare payment cuts. It stands to lose even more if the state should opt not to participate in the Medicaid expansion.

Doug Leonard is with the Indiana Hospital Association.

"Hospitals are having to respond by cutting base costs and driving those down to whatever the medicaid payment will be. That is a moving target," said Leonard.

Community Health Network and Wishard Eskenazi Health announced a partnership to better prepare for requirements of the affordable healthcare act.

Dr. Lisa Harris is the CEO and Medical Director at Wishard Hospital.

"We are retaining the ownership and identities of two strong health systems on their own but coming together to do something much more than either of us can do alone," said Dr. Harris.

Earlier this year Indiana University Health announced it intended to cut one billion dollars' worth of expenses over the next four years, which likely includes staff reductions. It also delayed plans to expand Methodist Hospital.

This uncertainty is taking a toll on more than just urban health care.

"We have 18 counties in Indiana with no hospitals because they are in very rural areas but now we have 29 counties that have no obstetrical service because 11 hospitals have had to drop birthing services they can no longer provide them," said Leonard.

St. Vincent says the restructuring process will take place before June 30th.