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Lovelace Health Plan cuts 43 positions

The Lovelace Medical Center is located just east of Downtown.(Journal File)

The Lovelace Medical Center is located just east of Downtown.(Journal File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Loss of Medicaid managed-care contract results in reductions

Lovelace Health Plan, the insurance arm of Lovelace Health System, has eliminated the jobs of 43 employees, the company told the Journal in an email Monday.

The move had been expected since LHP lost the competition to become one of the managed-care companies contracted by the state to serve Medicaid beneficiaries beginning Jan. 1.

Lovelace, which had managed Medicaid care for 74,000 members under a contract due to expire at year-end, sold its Medicaid operation to Molina Healthcare of New Mexico earlier this month. Lovelace Health System has said it will continue to provide health care to Medicaid beneficiaries at its hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

Lovelace said the affected employees were “given an opportunity to apply for open positions” in LHS. The plan “is working closely with Molina on transitioning these individuals where possible.”

Lovelace said Molina has participated in two on-site job fairs for the employees, and it invited other health-care organizations to participate in on-site fairs in the future.

Earlier this month, Lovelace announced that the plan’s president, Ben Slocum, had left the company. The company only would say Slocum “is no longer with the organization. We wish him well and thank him for his service.”

The statement said Lovelace has hired Optum, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, to manage the plan while Lovelace searches for a new chief executive officer.

Late last year, ABQ Health Partners, which provided health-care services to thousands of Lovelace plan members, and Lovelace failed to reach a new provider agreement.

Lovelace Health Plan insures about 17,520 members in commercial group plans, 12,750 federal health-benefits plan members, and 28,200 Medicare beneficiaries.