University of Kansas Hospital nurses unhappy with cuts

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A group of nurses at the University of Kansas Hospital woke up early Tuesday morning to protest proposed cuts to their pay and other benefits.

University of Kansas Hospital officials said they have not cut nurses pay the past 15 years, but the passage of the Affordable Care Act means the hospital is now facing major cuts in federal funding from Medicare and Medicaid.

Facing a shortfall of tens of millions of dollars, the Hospital decided to make cuts across the board, and the nurse's union is not happy about it.

University of Kansas Hospital officials said they are cutting certain benefits including premium pay, and extra money given to those who work evenings, overnights and weekends.

To make it up, the Hospital raised the nurse's base salary by two percent. Union leadership agreed to the new contract, but the membership voted it down. Last year, the Hospital made more than one billion dollars in revenue.

While some might suggest that money be used to pay the nurses, the hospital said all that profit is reinvested to improve patient care.

In addition, the hospital saw a 25 percent increase in uninsured patients last year, costing the hospital more than $51 million in uncompensated health care costs.

“Yeah, a billion does sound like a lot, but this place has a lot of overhead. We are constantly putting our money back into the latest equipment, the best research, the best doctors, the best nurses,” said Jill Chadwick, a University of Kansas Hospital spokeswoman. “It's money we have to have and we put right back into this hospital.”

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