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Rural Hospitals Squeezed Financially by the Pandemic

Wisconsin’s rural hospitals are facing the double threat of increasing COVID-19 patients along with uncertainty around Medicaid reimbursements.


Tim Size, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative Executive Director, told that rural hospitals are experiencing major financial losses, even though service levels are back to pre-COVID-19 levels. “On average, rural hospitals, rural communities have less access to testing, longer delays at getting testing results,” Size said. “This translates into higher use of personal protective equipment, inefficiencies in staff and a higher burn rate for equipment.”


At least a dozen rural hospitals have used the Paycheck Protection Program to keep themselves afloat. Additional federal CARES Act funding has helped, too, but it’s unknown if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will factor in CARES Act funds when calculating Medicaid reimbursement rates.


What’s more, job losses have led to more people on BadgerCare. All of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic has added to the financial precariousness of rural health care.

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