LIBERTY, Mo. -- Officials at Liberty Hospital confirmed Tuesday that they laid off 129 employees in an effort to cut $20 million.
The hospital said the lay-offs were a result of the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act that will reduce Medicare payments to hospitals when it officially takes effect in January 2014.
The hospital said the lay-offs were a proactive measure to keep the hospital fiscally responsible. It said patient care would not be affected.
But many employees disagree. Amy Stone worked at the hospital as a nurse for eight years but was among those dismissed on Tuesday.
"The patients are going to end up suffering for it. They are going to have less nurses that will be taking care of more patients and the patients are going to get less and less care," Stone said. "They're not going to get their baths like they should, they're not going to get their medicine on time."
Stone told FOX 4 that she feels betrayed because she thought she was a good employee and never expected it to end like this.
The hospital spokesperson said the hospital assigned seven task forces to find a way to reduce expenses by $20 million without jeopardizing patient care.
"You'll have one core team of nurses that's providing care to patients on a particular floor as opposed to a lot of rotating staff coming in and out during different shifts," explained Julie Simpson, the hospital's spokesperson.
Simpson says the the task forces recommended other cost-cutting measures, such as eliminating the hospital funded patient transportation program and closing the hospital's wound clinic.
"We are going to be much more efficient in how care is provided because of how much less we'll be paid in terms of Medicare and in terms of Medicaid," said Simpson.
Simpson says the Affordable Care Act was designed for Medicaid to cover people who are under-insured or not covered at all, but since the State of Missouri chose not to expand the program, Simpson said it will force hospitals to pick up the tab when uninsured or under-insured patients seek emergency care.
"It is our primary concern to provide the highest care to our patients and not to interrupt the quality of care through these changes. The measures we implement will focus on patient care, while allowing Liberty Hospital to remain fiscally responsible," said David Feess, President and CEO of Liberty Hospital.
Simpson said the 129 employee cuts were not done lightly and she says the cuts were across the board, including senior-level managers, nurses, and maintenance and nutritional employees.