Both Medical University Hospital and Roper St. Francis Healthcare say they have recently cut differential pay for some staff members to save money.

The hospital systems said in separate prepared statements that they eliminated some of these incentive payments to better align themselves with market rates.

Differential pay can be used to encourage staff to work under less desirable conditions, like weekend shifts. Although differential pay falls under the premium pay category and does not affect a staff member’s base salary, these cuts are reflected in an employee’s paycheck.

Betts Ellis, an administrator at Medical University Hospital, said, “Also, overtime pay has been closely monitored to ensure it is used appropriately.”

Neither system indicated how much money has been saved by the new policies.

“All hospitals are looking for ways to manage costs due to reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and impacts of the Affordable Care Act,” said Doug Harrison, vice president for human resources at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. “Adjustments in work hours or pay scale are not uncommon in most industries, including health care.”

He added that the hospital system recently gave full-time employees a $500 bonus and part-time employees a $250 bonus “in appreciation of their dedication to our mission and to help offset some of the increase in living expenses that many of them are facing.”

Neither hospital system specified what staff members have been affected by the recent differential pay cuts.

Harrison partly blames the cuts on Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to reject federal money to expand Medicaid in South Carolina.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal government will decrease the amount of money it pays hospitals to treat the uninsured and, in exchange, pay for more residents to enroll in Medicaid.

Haley and the General Assembly have decided to reject that federal money to expand the low-income health insurance program because the state will need to kick in a small percentage of the expansion costs starting in 2017. Their decision means hospitals will be paid less in the future to treat large numbers of uninsured patients.

A spokeswoman for Trident Health said that system has not cut staff differential pay or base salaries.

More information was not immediately available following the mid-week holiday.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.