Notice the 'significant' qualifier in WPAHS cuts

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Back in the pre-cable days, the only repeats in the world of communication were reruns of TV shows during the summer. However, in corporate America and especially the health insurance industry, they have a very hard time making the transition from the 1950s and '60s to today.

It was less than five years ago when our beloved, sacred Highmark laid off a few employees -- including me and many of my friends -- from its Pittsburgh and Camp Hill offices. It made the newspaper at the time, with the tag line "no other 'significant' reductions are planned at this time." That same statement has been brought back, the start of a rerun of a mini-series that occurred just before the biggest buying binge we've seen. This time with the layoff or elimination of more than 400 positions at West Penn Allegheny Health System ("WPAHS Lays Off 262 Employees, Trims Vacant Posts," July 27 Business), the story line will still play out the same.

Yes, the West Penn Allegheny Health System spokesman is telling you the truth when he says no other "significant" reductions are planned at this time. The key word is significant; most likely there will be more down the road, only fewer at a time.

As for the line that the reductions "span every level of the workforce, but relatively few are related to direct patient care," I hope he gave you a detailed definition of that. In the prior episode, Highmark eliminated the very first people who were in contact with the insurance members, then realized it made a mistake.

I feel bad for all of you at this time.

PEG BITTNER
South Park


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