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RiverStone Health laying off 29 workers after Medicaid-revenue shortfall

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Posted at 3:04 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 12:22:40-04

RiverStone Health said Friday it will lay off 29 employees in mid-June after losing $3.2 million in annual Medicaid revenue, officials at the agency said Friday.

The agency is cutting about 9 percent of its workforce, including several senior leadership and management consolidations, in an effort to fill the budget shortfall. RiverStone has 431 employees, and the drop in Medicaid revenue represents 6 percent of the total budget.

“Everyone impacted by these reductions plays a vital role in protecting life, health and safety. The elimination of these positions does not diminish the incredible difference they’ve made in serving our community,” Jon Forte, RiverStone Health president and CEO, said in a written statement.

RiverStone Health is Yellowstone County's public-health agency, providing services such as medical, dental and behavioral health care, regardless of patients' ability to pay.

RiverStone Health officials said they've seen a 12 percent decline in the number of enrolled Medicaid patients since the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services began determining how many people are eligible for the federal healthcare insurance program.

States have been required to do this after a COVID-era federal directive expired last year. That directive had allowed people to remain on Medicaid rolls without checking their eligibility.

Between April 2023 and January 2024, more than 134,000 Montanans lost their Medicaid coverage during this process, called a redetermination, according to the Montana Free Press. About 63 percent were removed for procedural reasons rather than ineligibility.

“Unfortunately, it is impossible to further reduce expenses without impacting our dedicated team members, as other health organizations in our state and nation are now forced to do,” Forte said in a statement. “Montana’s Medicaid reenrollment process has created hardships for over 134,000 Montanans. Now it is directly impacting our dedicated healthcare professionals who cared for them with compassion.”

Affected RiverStone employees received a support package that included a 30-day notice, access to employee assistance and support services. Eligible employees will also be able to apply for limited internal vacancies as they are available.