One of the nation's largest HMOs is laying off 530 employees in Southern California, a company official confirmed over the weekend.
Kaiser Permanente said the layoffs -- constituting about eight-tenths of one percent of it employees -- would be spread across its 65,700 employees and doctors working in offices and hospitals from Kern County to the Mexican border.
Under its union contracts, the laid-off employees who are in unions will get income and benefits for a year. Many may also be rehired next year, when Kaiser Permanente expects "significant membership growth."
"Health care in America is in the midst of one of the most exciting and challenging times in its history, the firm said in a statement today. "We have undertaken a series of cost-reduction initiatives to ensure we meet these changing dynamics, and they include some position eliminations.
"It is important to note that none of these position eliminations will in any way jeopardize the quality of patient care, which is always our primary focus," the corporate statement said.
Nationwide, the health care industry is undergoing structural changes to adopt to the new federal Affordable Health Care Act -- commonly called Obamacare.
Exact layoff locations were not available, a spokeswoman said, because some of the affected employees may be offered other vacant positions as it makes staffing adjustments next week.