WPS Health Insurance to lose 600 jobs

Jobs to be eliminated include hundreds in Madison

Published On: Nov 02 2012 07:54:23 PM CDT   Updated On: Nov 03 2012 06:45:00 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

One of Madison’s largest employers announces it’s laying-off several hundred employees.

According to information released late Friday, WPS Health Insurance will eliminate about 600 jobs. Employees will start getting notices this month and layoffs will continue in phases over the next year.

In all, 280 positions will be cut at the Madison location, and another 250 in Wausau, according to an e-mail sent to WPS employees. Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple says, he’s confident many of the employees who were laid off will find other jobs within the city.

Only 50 jobs will remain at the Wausau location, where the news hit especially hard. Over the phone, other officials there say three other major businesses have recently closed, taking about 1,000 other jobs with them.

“I think you feel like there’s kind of a piling-on effect. There have been a number of jobs that have been lost and in others, we’ve been fortunate to see job growth in other sectors, but it doesn’t compensate for the jobs we’ve lost,” said County Board of Supervisors member John Robinson. “You’re always trying to find that opportunity to create new jobs, but it’s tough in this economy.”

In the case of WPS, its CEO says it lost a contract with TriWest Healthcare Alliance of Phoenix that would have served people receiving Medicare in 21 states.

In a press release, WPS CEO Mike Hamerlik says, “This is difficult for WPS and its employees, but is real and necessary and the company will focus on meeting the needs of customers.”

WPS is also eliminating 70 other jobs out of state. It will offer impacted employees a severance package and they’re allowed to apply for any open positions at WPS.