April 9, 2010

$21 million budget snafu at DSHS HRSA may result in 160 layoff notices

Employees at DSHS HRSA in Olympia were informed Thursday (4/8/10) of layoffs numbering 160.

A budget snafu in 2009, and a failure of the legislature to restore the funding, could result in a significant loss of future revenue.

At the call center at HRSA headquarters in Olympia, 70 employees handle thousands of calls each month from Medicaid clients and providers who are seeking Medicaid authorization.  When authorization is made, federal matching funds kick in.  This is a revenue generating operation.

In February, these 70 employees received 63,859 incoming calls from clients and providers; and 1028 calls for provider enrollment. The layoff threat would remove 30 employees from the call center leaving only 40 employees to handle the same number of calls. When the state does not make the authorizations and calls go unanswered, the state is actually losing considerable federal match money.

So far in the session funding has not been restored.  When the union was informed on Thursday that the Legislature was balking at full restoration, the union immediately demanded a meeting with HRSA management, and members took their story to the public with a march to the Capitol and a request to see the Governor.

On the steps of the HRSA building on Cherry Street in Olympia, WFSE Executive Direct Greg Devereux informed the affected employees, “We’re not going to wait.  We’re going to do everything we can now to get the funding restored.”

WFSE HRSA members will be working all weekend to demonstrate to legislators the vital revenue generating aspects of their jobs.

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