$15 Million To Fix The Healthcare Shutdown That Is Still Going On


WEAU/EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – $15 million that was supposed to help Western Wisconsin with health care problems caused by the closing of HSHS services is still not known what will happen with it.

SHS Sacred Heart Hospital and SHS St. Joseph’s Hospital will close this week. Wisconsin officials want to fix this problem, and in February, a bill giving millions of dollars was signed into law. Gov. Evers did veto some parts of that bill, though, and Republicans and State Senator Jesse James of Altoona say those vetoes are making things harder.

“Chippewa County and Eau Claire County were the main focus of the legislation we wrote,” James said. “Now, if we give these funds to the governor without a plan, he could spend them in places other than Eau Claire and Chippewa County.

Co-Chair State Sen. Howard Marklein also sent WEAU a message about the money. “The Governor wants us to pay for a bill that he vetoed,” he said. He wants a group of the legislature to rewrite laws, change what the laws were supposed to do, and pay for something he vetoed! Since the Governor keeps suing the lawmakers, I don’t understand why he wants us to take a legal chance when he already vetoed the bill that would have fixed the problem. The governor would have signed the bill if he wanted to send money to hospitals in the Chippewa Valley.

Thanks to the governor’s vetoes, the money can be used for more than just Chippewa and Eau Claire counties. It can be used for things like OB/GYN care and mental health care. WEAU asked Governor Evers to address worries that the money might not go to the Chippewa Valley but could be used for other things. This is what he said:

“Other than the people here, who the hell should make that choice? “That’s the whole point,” Evers said. “This money would go to the area around Eau Claire.”

In a message sent on February 29, DHS asked the state’s Joint Finance Committee to include this spending in their plans. The Republican-led Joint Finance Committee has not yet done so. State Rep. Mark Born, who is Co-Chair of the Committee, said, “The committee will not support a proposal that moves the money from this high-need area to anywhere in Western Wisconsin.”

They don’t agree on how to best use the funds, so there isn’t a set date for when they will be given. They both agree, though, that something needs to be done right now.

James said, “Discussions are going on, and they were going on before the deadline was moved up.

Evers said, “The most important thing is right now, and we need to get that money out the door and into the hands of the people who can make decisions here.”

As early as Friday, people will be able to get the care they need, according to Wisconsin’s DHS Secretary. The Department of Health Services is working closely with providers like Marshfield Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System. That’s the time both hospitals are set to close.

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