Central Maine Healthcare lays off 35, admins take salary cut

LEWISTON — Citing tough times brought on by money owed by the state and poor MaineCare reimbursement rates, Central Maine Healthcare is laying off 35 people.

In other efforts to save money, administrators, including CEO Peter Chalke, are taking an 8 percent salary cut. Another 16 managers will be demoted and 45 empty positions eliminated. Those and other long-term measures total about $11 million in savings, Central Maine Healthcare spokesman Chuck Gill said Tuesday.

“We believe at this point in time, that would be sufficient to balance our budget — again, that assumes that (patient) volumes come back, and volumes have been relatively slow,” he said.

Central Maine Healthcare says the state owes it $56 million in MaineCare payments going back to 2007.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey said in an interview late last week that Maine has been working to clear up that debt. According to Harvey, hospitals accepted federal stimulus funds toward back payment in 2008 and agreed then not to pursue layoffs for an undefined length of time.

“The whole purpose of Recovery Act dollars was to sustain employment or to make employment opportunities,” Harvey said. “(Gov. John Baldacci) came through with his agreement of $204 million of general funds, matched with federal money, for a total of $920 million paid to hospitals in his administration for settlements and now, here we are; the money’s gone out and they’re laying people off.”

A meeting is being set up next week with Baldacci, Chalke and others to talk about money owed to hospitals, the governor’s office confirmed Tuesday.

“Plan A is to have the money appropriated to pay the debt,” Gill said. “That would be the best. Beyond that, there could be a number of solutions.”

In July, the entire Central Maine Healthcare staff, about 3,200 people, learned they would not get raises and their vacation time would be reduced in an initial effort to cut costs, according to a press release. Gill said other efforts now include renegotiating vendor contracts, cutting back work hours and trimming benefits.

Central Maine Healthcare is the parent company of Central Maine Medical Center, Rumford Hospital and Bridgton Hospital.

Last week, officials said they believed most layoffs and other money-saving efforts would be centered at CMMC in Lewiston, the largest of the hospitals.

More patients not paying their bills, more MaineCare patients and the unpaid state reimbursements have led to the current situation, Gill said. He said the system is reimbursed 60 cents on the dollar for treating MaineCare patients. “The more care we provide, the more it costs us.”

Maine is estimated to pay Central Maine Healthcare $35 million for services this fiscal year, a DHHS spokesman said. Money hasn’t been budgeted for back payments.

“The fact that they have to make some business decisions and are using layoffs as a strategy, that’s for them to decide," Harvey said. "I think it’s unfortunate.”

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Peter Blake's picture

wow

It is my understanding that those people who lost their jobs at CMMC, or at least some, were met at the door by their supervisors and a security officer, told that they had to clean out their lock, escorted to it, and off of CMMC property. No notice was given, etc... all I can say is if that is true, that is a pretty HARSH way to to treat people. I come from a different environment where people are given two week notices, doesn't CMMC expect that of its own people when they leave (to give appropriate notice)? SO IS IT OVER? Will there be more cuts down the road, will cuts be in personnel or salary? Just how many bodies can be cut and still maintain quality care in this institution? Far better that IF there is another round that that they cut (entirely) top administration positions (saving of hundreds of thousands of dollars just there), and next take a percentage salary reduction for the remainder of the staff, BUT IT MUST END SOMEWHERE, and can't keep going on and on. I also note that I did not see that any of the Board of Directors returned any salary or benefits (if they receive any at all. I, along with many many others, urge the state to pay their bills to the hospitals to maintain the quality of care that remains. PLEASE PLEASE SAVE OUR LOCAL HOSPITALS. YES, local consolidation is not possible as there are wide philosophical gaps, but it would make a lot of sense wouldn't it. OF COURSE, it would.

Fred Stone's picture

Maine Care

I witnessed one woman who had twisted her ankle and said she called for an ambulance to take her to the hospital, because if she called a cab she would have to pay for it, but the ambulance was free because she was on Maine Care

 's picture

Pretty Sad

Its pretty sad working people have to lose their jobs because the State of Maine can't pay their bills. The State rather support those who sit on their porches watching the working people pass by on a daily basis and pay insurance for the low income losers! Pay your bills like the middle folks do! Oh, thats right, we (meaning middle class folks) are expected to pay them...

 's picture

Pretty Sad

Its pretty sad working people have to lose their jobs because the State of Maine can't pay their bills. The State rather support those who sit on their porches watching the working people pass by on a daily basis and pay insurance for the low income losers! Pay your bills like the middle folks do! Oh, thats right, we (meaning middle class folks) are expected to pay them...

 's picture

There are absolutely no

There are absolutely no checks and balances on MaineCare. There are good responsible people on MaineCare who would be more than happy to help with the checks and balances. You would not believe the amount of "junk mail" MaineCare sends participants but they refuse to send out statements. That is an invitation to fraud. Any MaineCare provider who obtains a MaineCare participants member number and information can submit any claim at any time and MaineCare would pay it or defer payment until they had the money with no one the wiser that the service was not rendered. My private insurance sends me a statement everytime a provider submits a bill. I as a responsible insured and wanting to keep rates down review the itemized statement to make sure I received ALL of the services on the bill. I had one hospital stay many years ago where 50% of what was on the bill I never received, they were automaticly assumed would be provided charges. I disputed the charges, the hospital admitted they did not provide the services in my case and my insurance company didn't pay the 50% in overcharges. Providers don't dare bill insurance companies for ficticious appointments because they know the patient will get a statement putting them at great risk of getting caught, not so with MaineCare. If MaineCare sincerely wants to get a handle on costs the first place to start is to send statements to participants. Don't believe this is going on, MaineCare, how about doing a sampling for a month or two. Send out one of your mailings and ask MaineCare participants if they would be willing to review statements if sent to them and report questionable charges. Then start with those who respond they will review and see how much fraud you catch.

Kevin Hanscombe's picture

Do Citizens realize the level of corruption involved in this?

There are Sooo many problems with this picture.. you have a "non profit" in Central Maine Healthcare which is clearly a "for profit" business.. whether it be federal and or state laws that govern "non profits" these rules have to be changed. That in of itself has been abused.

And with respect to Maine care and the dems I think I while just refer to Bob stones comments on how the Dems buy votes with social programs, damage the demographics of the state, and then dont buck up and pay the bills associated with all of it.

But my interest is the level of corruption invloved in all of this. I am not just talking about the person who is on it and shouldnt be. I am talking about the money being handed to individuals to allegedly take care of someone else. I have personaly seen massive corruption on an individual basis with this. I am talking about medication that is supposed to be going to sick people ending up on the street, Mulitple people getting paid to take care of the same person, boyfriends geting paid to take care of their allegedly disabled girlfriends and vice versa.. I hear it goes all the way to the top in DHS.. And at the end of the day how many cases of fraud or abuse is being investigated each year by the state?? My guess would be hardly any!

 's picture

MaineCare for working couples without kids?

I am all for MaineCare for those who need it but I remember talking to a gentleman who had a job, along with his girlfriend. Both were working adults and apparently signed up for MaineCare (and food stamps). The man said it took awhile but they finally "got em." I was a bit disgusted because I don't mind helping families in need with children to feed. We all know most low-income jobs will NOT support a family anymore, but two working adults most likely can feed themselves. I remember the days before I was married. The cost of food for a single person was extremely low, even if you went out to eat. MaineCare is an excellent benefit to those who truly need it but I am worried some people are getting it when they shouldn't (and well, we all know this happens).

Bob Stone's picture

Bizarre Comments By Brenda Harvey

The Augusta bureaucrats apparently don't understand a basic tenet of economics: "Cash flow is king." In the real world, far from Augusta, cash in has to exceed cash out if an organization, for profit or not-for-profit, is to continue to exist. The basic problem here is (1) that the state is signing people up for MaineCare;(2)they are showing up at CMMC to be treated;(3)and Brenda Harvey's department is not paying CMMC for the care rendered.

I don't give a hoot that "stimulus" has been used to bail out the state on large sums of previously owed, "seriously delinquent", MaineCare debt. The problem is that the practice continues to this date. They have "run up" another $56 million and are adding to that delinquent debt at the rate of $1 million a month AT CMMC ALONE. We won't get into what is being rung up at other providers statewide.

As a taxpayer of the state of Maine, I take vigorous exception to Baldacci, Libby Mitchell, Peggy Rotundo, Margaret Craven, Dick Wagner, Mike Carey, Mike Lajoie, Deb Simpson and all the other Democrats promising people free medical care in the name of MaineCare, accepting votes for same, and then refusing to pay for the care provided under their outrageously large (297,000 souls) social program and then stiffing the health care providers of this state. This is beyond disgusting.

We've got all of these New Mainers running around and we have got to take care of them as they have shown up for the freebies. Let's buck up, Democrats, and pay your bills. If you can't afford to pay your bills, change the damned programs.

Fred Stone's picture

Pay

What did the S/J pay you to make these ridiculous comments?

Michael Morin's picture

This has nothing to do with

This has nothing to do with Paul LePage or tax dodgers. It's because Democrats and Baldacci thought "land of the free" meant free food, free heating, free housing, free Maine Care. That will all change in November!!!!

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