After the news of Jim Ross being hospitalized, there was some suspicion that maybe WWE booked the angle on Monday to give JR some time off for surgery. Several WWE employees stated that JR hadn t been looking too good backstage during the past couple weeks, and has been in noticeable discomfort. However, apparently the angle on RAW had nothing to do with giving JR time off, and was a completely separate issue.
As far as most in the company know right now, JR has been legitimately and permanently removed as RAW play by play announcer. However if the whole thing does turn out to be a work, it would likely cause some major problems with the trust factor between WWE and their employees, much like that happened with WCW.