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CEO: SEARHC hit hard by federal funding cut

A healthcare organization with thousands of patients in Southeast Alaska expects a massive hit to its budget.

The head of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC, says it’s the result of federal spending cuts known as sequestration.

CEO Charles Clement says his organization is bracing for a $3.5 million budget cut over the next six months.

“There is no possible way for SEARHC to absorb this amount of reduction,” he said.

Clement says the reduced funding is because of sequestration, which went into effect on March 1 when Congress could not reach an agreement on the nation’s budget. SEARHC receives a large percentage of its funding from the federal government.

Clement writes that he’s traveling this week to meet with the Indian Health Service and other tribal health organizations about sequestration. And he says SEARHC executives are working with the board of directors to figure out what to do.

“What I can tell you,” Clement writes in an email, “is that budget changes of this magnitude are beyond my authority to decide.”

He says nothing has been decided so far, but that difficult decisions are on the way.

SEARHC is Southeast Alaska’s largest private employer. It provides health services to Alaska Natives and other beneficiaries at its hospital campus in Sitka and through providers in Juneau. It also works in smaller communities throughout the panhandle.

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