SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH

Until 10 PM

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids and northern Indiana issues a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH for Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joe, and Branch counties until 10 PM.  Damaging wind gusts of 60 mph or greater are the primary concern.  Large hail of 1" in diameter or larger is a close second.  We'll be tracking storm development with Live Doppler Radar throughout your afternoon and evening.  Storm motion is easterly at 30 to 50 mph.  Stay with wwmt.com for the latest weather information!

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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

As local hospitals brace for cutbacks, health insurance sign-ups continue

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - News broke Wednesday that Borgess Medical Center is laying off some staff, announcing those cuts to employees Thursday.

Bronson says it will not be making any staff cuts, but is making several changes.

Kalamazoo's two major hospitals are blaming the government sequester and the Affordable Care Act for the reductions.

The new federal health care law is forcing Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Hospital to re-evaluate the way they do business.

We all know the health care industry nationwide is going through changes.

On Thursday, dozens of people signed up for the Affordable Care Act at different locations throughout the country.

It's a time of uncertainty for many as they try to adjust.

Residents throughout Kalamazoo County are signing up for health insurance under the new law Thursday night at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Kalamazoo.

"They're trying to check out plans and pricing, they're also asking questions about Medicaid," said Josh Jacobs, with Kalamazoo County Health and Human Services.

Both Bronson and Borgess say the new federal health care law will not affect services, but according to a statement from Borgess, "the impact of Medicaid payment reductions related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act necessitates Borgess to reduce our total associate workforce."

Sources tell Newschannel 3 that some workers were notified Thursday--clerks, nurses, and security among others.

We're told they're non-union jobs and some departments could lose as many as seven employees.

Their last day could be December 31.

The health care industry is changing, and Jacobs tells Newschannel 3 that he understands his agency could be taking on a bigger role.

"We anticipate seeing more individuals for services through the health department for sure, as more people get enrolled in Medicaid and trying to get connected to health insurance," he said.

As for Bronson, Newschannel 3 obtained a message sent to workers in November by the CEO, warning the health care industry is going through considerable changes, stating that the sequester is reducing payments to the hospital by $900,000 per month.

According to the message, Bronson is only filling essential open positions, reducing expenses for food, travel, and supplies, and not giving raises in 2014--and that goes for executives, leaders, and workers.

"I think there's still a lot of uncertainty, so there may be some, it's going to impact organizations differently," Jacobs said.

Borgess says Medicaid reductions will cost them about $140 million over the next 10 years.

No one from either hospital was available to talk to Newschannel 3 Thursday evening.