MacIver News Minute: Throwing $15 Million at Western Wisconsin’s Healthcare Problem

June 11, 2024

Every time there’s a problem somewhere, government’s knee jerk response is to throw money at it.

Take the hospital situation in western Wisconsin for example. Two hospitals abruptly closed their doors this spring, creating a capacity problem in the emergency rooms there.

The state is trying to figure out how to send $15 million in emergency grants to help do something right away. Lawmakers passed a bill in February to provide the money exclusively for emergency room capacity, but the governor used his line-item veto to allow that money be used for any healthcare needs in the region. The joint committee of finance, subsequently, refuses to release the funds.

But, how exactly would $15 million help increase emergency room capacity right away? After all, even simple hospital expansions are multi-year projects that cost a lot more than $15 million.

Some experts believe that the best way to expand capacity is through policy and regulatory changes, not more government funding.

But health care providers are telling lawmakers that they need that money and they need it now.

When MacIver asked those lawmakers how that money would be used to increase emergency room capacity, the response was: we don’t know. We didn’t talk about that.

No kidding.