LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Passport Health Plan laid off 29 employees recently as the Louisville-based nonprofit Medicaid administrator seeks to improve its finances ahead of a planned $70 million buyout, the organization confirmed Thursday.

"As we work through our plan to return Passport to solid financial footing, this is a difficult but necessary step to re-position the organization for the long-term future," Passport spokesman Ben Adkins said in an emailed statement.

Adkins did not say when exactly the jobs were cut, nor what types of positions. Passport employees number about 600 in all.

Passport is seeking government approvals to sell a majority stake in the organization for $70 million to Evolent Health, a for-profit health plan administrative company based in Washington, DC.

The deal announced May 29 would put Evolent in control of Passport and provide a windfall to Passport's nonprofit owners, primarily the University of Louisville.

Passport's current owners, called sponsors, have already installed an Evolent executive, Scott Bowers, as CEO of Passport beginning earlier this month.

Bowers, who also runs Evolent's national Medicaid business, told WDRB on May 29 that Evolent plans to reduce Passport's costs by about $180 million a year, including Medicaid and administrative savings.

At the time, Bower said it was too soon to determine whether that would mean layoffs.

But he said the long-term plan is to continue growing jobs in Louisville, where Evolent decided to headquarter its Medicaid business in 2016 as part of its initial partnership with Passport.

"We see really an opportunity to, yes, find efficiencies as we focus on how we serve the Medicaid consumers here, but also grow certain jobs and have some employee job growth over the years," Bowers said at the time.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.