AHA layoffs continue
Four more employees cut in recession’s wake
The American Hospital Association continued cutting personnel expenses last week, eliminating the positions of four more employees, including two publicly visible executives who worked in policy and public outreach.
The Chicago-based trade association confirmed it was eliminating the jobs held by Jim Bentley, senior vice president of strategic policy planning, and Richard Wade, senior vice president of strategic communications, both of whom have worked for the association for about 18 years.
An Oct. 12 internal memo said the AHA was also cutting jobs held by Davon Gray, legislative assistant, and Sharon Sales, senior administrative assistant. “I think organizations of all types across the country are dealing with these economic issues,” said AHA spokeswoman Alicia Mitchell, who confirmed the memo and answered all media inquiries about the cuts.
The four departures, effective Oct. 30, come amid an intense period of lobbying for the AHA in Washington, where Congress is drawing nearer to passing legislation to reform the U.S. health delivery and payment system. A vote by the Senate Finance Committee last week promised to send the reform bill to the main chambers of Congress, where a pitched battle appears likely to take place in public and behind closed doors.
Behind the scenes at the AHA, the long recession is taking its toll. The association has poured millions into its special lobbying and policy-development efforts, even as other operations are showing signs of strain. AHA’s publishing arm, Health Forum, eliminated 11 positions in April, and all top executives took a pay freeze in 2009, Mitchell said. She could not say how much money was saved with this month’s job reductions. “All year we have been talking about ways to reduce our expenses,” she said. “We’ve taken many steps throughout the year, and that has offset some of the losses to date, but the financial pressure remains, and the steps that were announced (on Oct. 12) reflect the economic challenges we face.” The most recent tax filings for the not-forprofit organization show that the organization posted an 18% profit margin in 2008, including $22.3 million in profit on $121 million in revenue. Revenue from member dues grew by $2.3 million, which represented 3% growth over 2007.
However, association leaders said such rosy figures disguised the true picture at AHA, where the investment portfolio lost $48 million in value in 2008. (Aug. 24, 2009, p. 16). Last year alone, the AHA spent about $1.5 million on its Health for Life policy initiative, in addition to the $2.5 million spent on advocacy and $100,000 donated to the AHA political action committee.
Bentley was a relatively public face of the AHA.
Wade is leaving the association after about 18 years.