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Health & Science

Uncertainty In Healthcare Sector Takes Toll On Texas Medical Center

Memorial Hermann, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and CHI Saint Luke’s combined have lost more than 2,000 employees since mid-2016.

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Texas Medical Center, Houston

At the Texas Medical Center, three of the biggest employers have had massive layoffs over the past year. This despite the fact that, on the whole, healthcare remains one of the stronger sectors of the Houston economy.

Taken together, Memorial Hermann, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and CHI Saint Luke's have let go more than 2,000 workers since mid-2016. All three have had CEOs step down over the same period.

"My guess is there is a slowing in the amount of revenue going into the healthcare sector," said Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University's Baker Institute, speaking as a guest on Houston Matters. She pointed to several reasons why people are spending less on healthcare. They range from uncertainty over the fate of Obamacare to larger out-of-pocket expenses on employer-provided health insurance.

Ho also said the building boom at the Medical Center may have left some companies overextended.

"The rate of growth in healthcare has been faster than GDP for years and years and years," she said, "and so if your executives got used to that and said, ‘If the growth is going to continue on, we need to start building,' and then they got caught, then you can see lots of problems."

The Texas Workforce Commission reports the Houston healthcare sector lost about 200 jobs between April and May. But it's still up more than 7,000 jobs over the past year.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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