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Wis.-based Ministry Health Care to cut 225 jobs

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ministry Health Care has announced plans to lay off about 225 to 250 employees, citing a drop in the number of patients and cuts in federal reimbursement levels.

Ministry, which operates 15 hospitals and 47 clinics across Wisconsin, will make the cuts mainly through attrition and job eliminations, spokesman Geoffrey Huys said.

There are more than 12,000 employees at Ministry, including 650 doctors and advanced-practice clinicians.

Huys said it was too early to say which specific positions and sites would be affected or when the cuts would be made.

"Right now we just don't know all of the details," he said in an email Wednesday.

Ministry Health Care was recently acquired by Ascension Health, the largest Catholic and not-for-profit healthcare system in the U.S. Huys declined to say whether any job cuts were a result of overlapping duties following the merger.

Ministry said the job cuts were driven in part by a decreased demand for services. High-deductible insurance plans have made people less likely to seek health services, the organization said in a statement.

In addition, federal sequestration led to a $10 million cut in Medicare reimbursements, Ministry said.

Ministry CEO Nick Desien acknowledged that job cuts wouldn't be easy for the community but said it was the best way to ensure patients could continue to receive high-quality affordable care.

"Coming to this conclusion has not been easy," Desien said in a statement. "... "We are, in effect, re-establishing the basis for staffing across our healthcare system at a time when the environment in which we work continues to change at an ever-increasing rate."

Ministry serves more than 1.1 million people across Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota. Its operations include Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, Saint Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, Saint Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point and St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Wabasha, Minn.