Press "Enter" to skip to content

Avera, Sanford Say Affordable Care Act Not Leading to Any SD Layoffs

Those who insist that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is destined to bring the health care world as we know it to an expensive and crippling end should be getting used to being disappointed by now. Individual insurance rates are likely to be 50% lower in New York, savings in South Dakota won't be quite as big but will still be savings, and the online exchanges drew plenty of citizens eager to check things out.

Now, more disappointment for Obamacare foes comes in the form of a decidedly non-hysterical assessment of the impact of the Affordable Care Act on operating costs and employment in South Dakota's two biggest health care networks (and two of the organizations providing health insurance plans for South Dakota's federally-operated online exchange), Avera and Sanford Health:

“We’ve had no layoffs, no furloughs, none of that going on,” [Sanford Chief Operating Officer Nate White] said. “When we do have turnover, we do take a hard look at the structure to see if we can become more efficient” [Jon Walker,"Wariness about changes in reimbursements puts squeeze on hiring at Avera, Sanford," That Sioux Falls Paper, 2013/10/07].

White said Sanford did eliminate 50 management jobs (of 26,000 overall jobs system-wide) in June but did so in ways that allowed some managers to leave, others to take new jobs, and still others to maintain jobs with adjusted responsibilities.

The report is the same from Avera. No layoffs. They're simply taking a cautious approach to filling some of the estimated 200 positions currently open at the Sioux Falls hospital:

“There are positions we are holding on, to make sure we can afford what we have ... and to give ourselves a few months to see how things are working with health reform before we add to the payroll,” [Avera McKennan Human Resources Officer Lynne] Hagen said [That Sioux Falls Paper, 2013/10/07].

These two health care behemoths (at least by state and regional standards) are taking a reasonable approach to an admittedly sweeping initiative that bucks some entrenched methods of providing and paying for health care in this nation. They're not using the threat of layoffs as leverage against the Affordable Care Act. They don't even seem to have a particularly big problem with it, at least publicly. It's just a new part of the calculations of doing business in what is still a highly profitable industry (officials assure readers that cautious employment decisions won't impact projects like the Sanford Pentagon or the Avera Sports Center).

The Affordable Care Act isn't shutting down Americans' insurance options and health care coverage.

It isn't shutting down the two largest health care entities (and also two of the largest employers) in the state of South Dakota, either.

It isn't shutting down the government, either. We have Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to do that. Avera, Sanford, care to show those folks in Washington the way that their more reasonable constituents (perhaps "corporate citizens"?) respond to the law of the land?


  1. jerry 2013.10.08

    This proves what NOem and folks like Lynn Westmoreland campaigned on in 2010. This coup was never about Obamacare, it was always about shutting down the government from the time this group of secessionists came to Washington.

    It is good that the biggest employers in South Dakota clearly state that Obamacare is not a job killer, it will be quite the opposite. There will most definitely have to be more doctors and many more healthcare providers. People will save money and will then be able to purchase goods and services from our main street businesses. So now that we know all of this, we need to ask, Where the hell is NOem and why will she not do her job for her state? Where the hell are big Rounds and little Rounds and Nelson to condemn this false flag and restore the people's government?

  2. Vikingobsessed 2013.10.08

    Do you know the guy gordon interviewed on his website who says his insurance company has to shut down because of the ACA?

  3. caheidelberger 2013.10.08

    You mean this video: ?

    That's Craig Lawrence, co-founder of SF ad agency Lawrence & Schiller, now chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party. He claims to have copyrighted the terms Bronze, Silver, and Gold for insurance plans. Fascinating.

    I think Schiller's company is Lands Health. Its website still looks open. Are they still in business, just like Sanford and Avera?

  4. Michael B 2013.10.08

    How will we ever know whether ObamaCare saves money or not if the website is always down for maintenance?

  5. Doug Wiken 2013.10.08

    Sanford may not be laying off people because of Obamacare, but there are several families in the Winner, SD area who know that local version is laying off people..some employed for many years.

  6. Jana 2013.10.08

    Michael B. Think of it in the wisdom of Yogi Berra..."No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

    Remember, no one is required to get health insurance to avoid being labeled a "free rider" (thanks Mitt) until December, but people are flooding the site because there is a need. Go figure.

    Just's so unpopular that no one went there...Yogi.

    Please proceed.

  7. jerry 2013.10.08

    What reasons were given for the layoffs in Winner, SD? Sanford just made huge deals in North Dakota taking over some big operations there. So it seems odd that they would cut back in Winner. I cannot remember if the clinic in White River is part of Sanford or independent of either Sanford or Avera, do you know? I know that Dr. Berg had that at one time and also, a practice in Winner. Whatever the case may be, any job losses in small communities hits hard.

  8. grudznick 2013.10.08

    Mr. Black has a good issue. If you asked somebody how much gravy was left unmade instead of how much did they leave on their plate you have the same conundrum. You can't measure unmade gravy, and you can't unconundrum this mess that the Libbies have left us with.

  9. Jana 2013.10.09

    Cory. I think Lawrence's insurance company was an internet predator for people who couldn't find affordable care. That's changed with the free market that Obamacare supports. Think of it, millions of people nationwide looking for insurance, you would think a good and legitimate insurance company would thrive.

    Jerry, I have no idea why there would be layoffs. Seems an active media would hunt that question down and peel an onion back. But the free market made Sanford and Avera big enough that they can exercise their freedom to do anything they want no matter who gets hurt.

    I'd get them on the record, find out if they know who will be hurt and lastly if they even care.

    The killer question a reporter could ask is if it's in the best interests of the people they serve.

    Guessing we'll hear ***crickets***

  10. DB 2013.10.09

    “When we do have turnover, we do take a hard look at the structure to see if we can become more efficient”

    no lay offs, just lost jobs.

  11. jerry 2013.10.09

    So then DB, what you are saying is that Obamacare did not cause the layoffs, it may well have been to make the machinery more efficient and to conserve resources. Is that not what we expect of a business plan?

    Here is the NOem business plan for America with her coup.

    NOem and the rest of the secessionists claim to be from the party of business and the party of Agriculture. How can they lay that claim when we see the complete lack of understanding of how business and agriculture work? When your actions cost 12 million and half hour, that seems more than the minimum wage she huffs about. Time to call for a clean CR vote and move on and also time to call for a challenger to this knucklehead that will represent us and our needs.

  12. Douglas Wiken 2013.10.09

    Jerry, Dr. Berg is still here. The clinic he is in has been sold to the hospital. Sanford has its fingers deep into the hospital. Details and info here always seem to be hush, hush...nothing behind this curtain, etc. I know what I read in the local paper, and that ain't much.

  13. twuecker Post author | 2013.10.09

    Jerry, exactly! Avera and Sanford are simply following business practices as usual, not doing anything that's uniquely caused by the Affordable Care Act. It seems like it should be standard practice (and is, in fact, standard practice in many already-cash-strapped industries) to evaluate each time there's a job opening to determine if filling that opening is a wise/efficient/beneficial choice. Walker's article also talks about how the changing health needs of patients create changing employment needs all the time. We don't get cranky and blame changing patient choice trends for "lost jobs" in one health care sector or another, why get cranky at Obama over the choices health care execs are clearly thinking about and making (NOT being any kind of forced into)?

  14. twuecker Post author | 2013.10.09

    grudznick & Michael B, that's a fair but very temporary point about the computer glitches. Lots of calculations and evidence (including the stuff linked to in several posts on this blog) indicate that there will be lower rates for an awful lot of Americans. The computer glitches are the sort of thing that's unfortunate but not particularly uncommon for a new technology roll-out, right? Seems to me like we should be nearing the point where making tech blips out to be either a symbol of some mis-perceived fundamental evil in the ACA or a punch line is just old and unproductive.

  15. jerry 2013.10.09

    Hello twuecker, the lower premium numbers will only really be found by getting onsite. The fact is, the site has been busy with enrollments in the tens of thousands as reported by cnbc

    What we are now seeing is the actions of Americans that have been denied a basic right, the right to affordable health care and we are seeing them making the choice to get covered. This is the nightmare that the secessionists did not wish you to see so they have now moved the goal posts to entitlements, clever little rascals they are, by half. The day after tomorrow, they will be declaring that the real reason for their coup was because Obama would not have a beer with them and the day after that, they got their feelings hurt some way as someone did not pamper them at their little gym. Honestly, we need grown-ups there to represent us, there is really no need for a prom queen when we need someone who can actually convey the drive to deliver a farm bill or to act on a budget without a meat cleaver.

  16. DB 2013.10.10

    " it may well have been to make the machinery more efficient and to conserve resources."

    They aren't conserving resources, just moving them to areas with increased costs. Whether you will admit or not, these are lost jobs. Growth and expansion will slow and that is no different. You can cut off a finger to save the hand, but that finger is still gone.

  17. jerry 2013.10.10

    I don't believe for a minute that they would "just moving them to areas with increased costs" makes practical sense nor certainly, business sense. Can you help me make sense of what you are saying? Of course whenever there is a job loss it hurts the community's impacted and I stated so. That finger may be gone, in your analogy, but by being gone, it may get a chance to develop into something that is even more productive as a finger. Here in America, we still have optimism, don't we?

  18. DB 2013.10.10

    Jerry, when you incur more costs in one area, you have to make that up somewhere else. This is why they will close open positions and think twice about re-hiring for positions that open up in the future. When resources are already stretched thin, adding more people to the program is just going to stress it more. Half of the problem with distributing health care in this country is our sparseness, and the fact that we think we need the same level of care everywhere. It just won't be possible if we want to remain cost efficient.

Comments are closed.