Hospital CEO blames Medicare Advantage for layoffs

A lack of payments from Medicare Advantage plans is one reason a Connecticut hospital is laying off staff, the Hartford Courant reported March 14. 

Bristol (Conn.) Health will eliminate 60 positions, 21 of which are currently occupied and will result in layoffs at Bristol Hospital. The hospital's CEO, Kurt Barwis, told the Courant a lack of reimbursement from insurers left the hospital without a choice but to cut staff. 

"All the nice-to-haves are being taken out by the lack of insurance payment and the lack of reimbursement," Mr. Barwis said. 

The system expects to save $6 million by cutting the positions. Bristol Health operates a 154-bed hospital and multiple primary care clinics. At Bristol Hospital, 63% of Medicare patients are in MA plans, the Courant reported.

Mr. Barwis told the newspaper Medicare Advantage plans have been denying claims more frequently, and delaying payments for the claims they do approve. 

"Our primary care is to take care of patients, their single focus is shareholder value and profits," Mr. Barwis told the Courant. "The Medicare Advantage abuse is outrageous."

A growing chorus of hospital executives have criticized Medicare Advantage plans for excessive prior authorizations and delayed payments. Since September 2023, Becker's has reported on at least 15 hospitals dropping some or all Medicare Advantage plans. 

Becker's has reached out to Bristol Health for comment and will update this article if more information becomes available. 

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