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Univera lays off 17 employees

Univera Healthcare said Friday it cut 17 employees the previous day in its case management division as it reorganizes the unit to cut costs and operate more efficiently.

The cuts represent 3.4 percent of its workforce of 500 employees in Western New York. Affected workers will have the chance to apply for other positions in the company, and were given a list of current openings, the company said in a statement. They will also be told of additional job openings as they occur.

The company said the goal of the case management reorganization is to lower the company's costs to remain competitive. Another 33 employees of Excellus Health Plan's Excellus BlueCross and BlueShield were cut across the company's 39-county service area, for a total of 50 employees. Excellus owns Univera, and both are part of Rochester-based Lifetime Healthcare Companies.

Officials declined to comment beyond a formal statement.

Last year, Excellus Health Plan tried to cut division-wide administrative spending without turning to layoffs. Instead, the company froze hiring and promotions, eliminated open positions and offered an early retirement package. The combination resulted in cutting 530 positions across upstate New York, a 13 percent reduction. Excellus employs more than 3,600 statewide.

Univera's cuts come two weeks after rival HealthNow New York, parent of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, also cut 17 employees as their positions became duplicative or unnecessary following a realignment of operations. The cuts included several top-level executives, including Senior Vice Presidents Stephen Jepson, Dennis T. Gorski and Nora K. McGuire, and Vice President David J. Uba.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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