Athens Review, Athens, Texas

April 4, 2013

ETMC cuts coming

Hospital will trim 5 to 7 percent of expenses

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System is planning significant cuts to offset funds lost by federal cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

In a statement released on Wednesday, ETMC announced that it will trim 5 to 7 percent from its expenses, resulting in the reduction of some services and the loss of some jobs.

“We are making these difficult decisions in order to continue to provide the core services required by our local communities. ETMC continues to be committed to providing excellent clinical care to our patients throughout East Texas,” system officials said.

ETMC Athens Administrator Pat Wallace said the cuts will affect the Athens location, but does not foresee any major shifts in the employment numbers.

“We’re not expecting to have anything in the way of personnel reductions here at all,” Wallace said. “It’ll probably play out over the next several months. We’re going to be watching expenses, watching our payroll dollars and supply expenditures, and try to operate more efficiently.”

Wallace said ETMC Athens already keeps a close watch on the dollars it spends.

“The government keeps cutting the reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, so its not anything new,” Wallace said.  “We’ll just have to do some additional belt-tightening.”

The Medicare and Medicaid cuts are particularly tough on Henderson County, where about 20 percent of the population is age 65 or older.

“In a rural county like Henderson County, most of the patients in a hospital are on Medicare or Medicaid,” Wallace said. “Henderson County used to be fast-growing, but the growth is way off. When you have a lot of growth, you have a lot of customers. You can increase your volume that way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore in Henderson County.”