Medicare Proposal May Cut Funds for 14 Northwest Rural Hospitals

14 hospitals in northwest Iowa may be facing serious federal budget cuts.
Those cuts could come from changes to Medicare.
Those 14 are among dozens in the state that could face the same fate.
Medicare's "Critical Access Hospital" program provides extra money to rural, isolated hospitals that serve Medicare patients.

It helps improve their financial performance and reduces the likelihood of the hospital closing.But now, the government wants to cut those funds to save millions of dollars.
The 23-year Medicare program is over budget by billions of dollars.
The problem started when a loophole allowed small, rural hospitals to become state - designated "necessary providers."
When those facilities could access the same federal funding as critical access hospitals the program expanded its limits, and because of that rural Iowa hospitals may soon be out of funding. "In Iowa there are 82 that are critical access hospitals. We receive reimbursement for Medicare patients that we see in a different way than other hospitals and it proves to be an extremely important leveling of the playing field for rural facilities in taking care of people out in the green spaces of Iowa," said Michael Donlin, an administrator at Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, Iowa. If the Medicare proposals do go into affect, Floyd Valley Hospital along with 81 rural hospitals will face severe cuts, ultimately affecting their staff and services. Both Iowa Senators Tom Harkin (D) and Chuck Grassley (R) are against the proposal and say it would seriously cripple Iowa's rural hospitals.
Iowa leaders in the medical field say those cuts would hurt their hospital's financial stability, but Medicare patients will still be cared for and treated. "20 percent of American population lives in rural areas and in many cases the hospital in those communities is the major employer and the major source of economic benefit to those communities," said Donlin.
However, those benefits and treatment could be farther away if those local hospitals cease to exist.
So far, Congress hasn't taken any action yet on the proposed cut.
The Northwest towns and counties at risk of the Medicare cuts include:
CherokeeRock RapidsDenisonRock ValleyEmmetsburgSac CityEsthervilleSheldonIda GroveSibleyLe MarsSioux CenterOrange CityStorm Lake