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Sugar House Journal

Is Intermountain Healthcare really cutting pay for its workers?

Apr 08, 2020 10h17 ● By Justin Adams
By Justin Adams | [email protected]

Last week, news headlines and social media posts began reporting that Intermountain Healthcare, the state's largest healthcare organization, would be cutting pay for its workers. Naturally, this caused a great deal of concern, but the question is, is it true?

In a guest op-ed written by Gail Miller, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Marc Harrison, M.D., President of Intermountain Healthcare, and published in the Salt Lake Tribune, the two proclaimed that "Intermountain Healthcare is not cutting the pay of our physicians, nurses, advanced-practice providers and other caregivers."

The confusion, they explained, came about because of the difference between salaried employees and volume-based contracted employees. 

"Paid salaries... won't vary because they are salaries. Salaries are not dependent on the amount of care they provide," read the statement.

On the other hand, employees on volume-based contracts get paid more or less depending on how much care they provide. However, because Intermountain has postponed elective and non-urgent procedures for the moment, many caregivers who would normally take part in those kinds of procedures are seeing less work. Thirty to fifty percent less work, according to Miller and Harrison. 

To address the decreased workload of those employees, "Intermountain will guarantee these providers receive no less than 85 percent of their current pay no matter how few patients they see."

The other element of Intermountain's plan involves re-assigning employees to other operations.

"We're redeploying employees to areas of need. For example, hospital nurses can be redeployed to areas such as screening desks, drive-thru testing sites, or telehealth centers, and they'll continue to receive their current rate of pay," wrote Miller and Harrison. 

However, they did clarify that if Intermountain is unable to redeploy an employee to another role, they will be provided compensation for up to four weeks. After which they will have to use their accumulated paid time-off. They also clarified that benefits for eligible employees won't change during the pandemic.

Miller and Harrison acknowledged that the plan isn't perfect and is subject to change. 

"We've never had to do anything like this before. But it's a responsible move designed to keep people working, keep their paychecks and benefits coming, and free them from worrying about financial matters while they're working hard to meet the needs of our patients and communities," they wrote.