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A subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina laid off 244 people recently when they lost a contract with Veterans Administration Choice. Carlos Osorio/AP

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is laying off 244 employees at two offices who work for a subsidiary that handles government contracts. 

The job cuts took effect Wednesday. 

The affected workers at PGBA handle "claims processing, contact center services, fiscal administration, data management, and web systems integration," according to its website. The BlueCross subsidiary has two offices, one each in Surfside Beach near Myrtle Beach and in Florence. 

But employment opportunities could come available at those offices as the employer makes bids on additional government contracts, said Patti Embry-Tautenhan, spokeswoman for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

"We’re very encouraged and optimistic that we will have more work," she said. "We certainly encourage and support our employees to look at BlueCross and its other companies for opportunities.”

The payroll reduction was attributed to the loss of a Veterans Administration Choice contract. Employees were notified in late August. 

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PGBA is just one of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina's subsidiaries that handles government contracts. It employs about 1,000 workers and has its own leadership and operations. 

"These actions are always difficult, but we have a number of outstanding bids and remain focused on the future," said Mike Skarupa, president and chief operating officer for PGBA, in a statement. "While disappointing, scaling workforce to workload is a well-known challenge in providing contractual services for the federal government."

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.