MELLENVILLE – Facing a $900,000 cut in state Medicaid funding that took effect July 1, 2011 Coarc will cut three staff and won’t fill four other jobs left empty by employees who are retiring.
The decision was based on a management recommendation approved September 9 by the agency’s board of directors.
All the positions being eliminated are in administrative and support area, not direct care.
News of the cuts was released late last week, and a press release from Coarc said that the new cuts in aid exceeded the savings from cost-cutting measures initiated earlier this year. This latest round of Medicaid reductions follows funding cuts last year of over $500,000 bringing the total cuts absorbed by the agency to nearly $1.5 million over the last two years. Coarc currently has a budget of around $22 million and operates at more than 20 sites around Columbia County, not including smaller facilities like supported apartments for people with developmental and other types of disabilities.
“This painful decision does not affect our direct care staffing for Coarc programs and services for individuals experiencing disabilities,” Coarc Executive Director Ken Stall said in the release. “Reducing administrative and support positions is the result of outside economic regulations and does not in any way reflect on the high quality performances of these employees.”
Coarc, a nonprofit organization, serves 500 individuals in Columbia County. It provides vocational and employment services, residential and supportive community services, day activity programs, service coordination, legal and family support services, children’s services, community habilitation, respite services, recreation opportunities, traumatic brain injury services and contract manufacturing.
It currently employs just under 400 people full and part time.
Mr. Stall said Coarc would try effort to offer the three employees who are losing their jobs direct care position openings or assist them with employment elsewhere in the community. The employees will receive severance packages including two to six weeks of pay based on years of employment, payment of all paid-time-off accruals and three months of fully paid health and dental insurance.
In addition to the job cuts, Coarc’s executive management staff will take a 2% salary reduction effective January 1, 2012 to help offset the funding cuts.
Earlier this year Coarc dropped employees’ paid life insurance, cancelled one paid holiday, reduced supply purchases and consolidated Coarc’s Chatham day program with its day programs in Valatie and Mellenville. But the agency says those reductions were not enough to offset the impact of the cuts to Medicaid funding, making it necessary to eliminate staff positions so that Coarc can balance its 2012 budget.
Mr. Stall said in a brief phone interview this week that the agency’s board is preparing next year’s budget and is concerned about the possibility of more cuts in the future. “We’ve tightened our belt as much as we can,” he said, but he noted that more layoffs are possible if state funding drops further.
He said in addition to cuts by the state to Medicaid reimbursements, his agency is also required to respond to new mandates issued by the state, some of them in the wake of press investigations into allegations of misconduct and abuse at state-run facilities. Coarc, a private agency, was not the subject of press scrutiny. “Coarc has always been in compliance,” he said of state requirements regarding safety, incident reporting and training.
Coarc is supported through state and federal funding, and by members, donors and foundations. It is a chapter of NYSARC, Inc. More information is available at www.coarc.org or 518-672-4451.