Union Members at Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center Applaud Medicaid Lawsuit Settlement – Urge Hospital Executives to Invest in Workers

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 26, 2020
For more information, contact: Joyce Gibson, jgibson@seiu1199.org, 877-419-7348.

While serving on the frontlines of the COVID19 pandemic, workers with the hospital say that they have been asked to take permanent pay cuts in ongoing union contract negotiations.

Prestonsburg, Kentucky – This week, union members with Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center applauded the announcement of a settlement regarding a 13-year dispute over Medicaid reimbursement rates. The total value of the settlement is $383M and Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center is expected to receive $5,028,667, according to a news release from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (read press release here). 

“As a worker who has been with Highlands ARH for over 20 years, I appreciate what this settlement means for our hospital in Prestonsburg and rural hospitals across Kentucky,” said Krinda Bailey, an emergency room worker and union member leader. “I know that this settlement relates to a dispute that started in 2007. This year, we have been on the frontlines of the COVID19 pandemic and we need a fair contract. I urge hospital executives with ARH to invest this settlement in the workers at Highlands ARH who do everything they can on behalf of the people of our region.”

A list of hospitals receiving funds under the settlement shows that five hospitals in the Appalachian Regional Healthcare system are expected to receive dollars. “From what has been reported, the total funding for five hospitals in the ARH system that will receive settlement funding is over $16M,” said Joyce Gibson, Regional Director with SEIU District 1199 in Kentucky. “This is a difficult time for so many people and these funds can be used to protect workers with Highlands ARH. These dedicated workers face news risks in their workplace but they have not wavered in their commitment to provide the very best possible healthcare services,” Gibson concluded.

SEIU members with Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center report that contract negotiations have been extremely difficult. Hospital workers plan to hold a strike authorization vote and candlelight vigil in the next week, while contract talks with management continue.

SEIU District 1199 represents over 250 workers with Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center and has represented members at the hospital since the 1980’s. 

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