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Chippewa Valley Health Crisis Prompts Emergency Session Call

Chippewa Valley Health Crisis Prompts Emergency Session Call

April 10, 2024 12:02 PM CDT
By: James Kelly

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As the Chippewa Valley adjusts to life without HSHS and Prevea, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers is calling for a special session of the Joint Finance Committee.

Following the announcement that all HSHS and Prevea facilities in the Chippewa Valley would close, the Wisconsin State Legislature and Governor Evers announced the reallocation of $15 million to emergency departments in the area. The funding was originally intended for HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire to expand its psychiatric bed capacity.

When Governor Evers signed the bill in February however, he used line item vetoes to make the funding more flexible. The changed bill would give Chippewa Valley healthcare organizations the ability to include things like Urgent Care and OB-GYN services in the funding.

The changes prompted the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee to refuse to release the funding, as some representatives argue it is now too flexible and could be spent outside Chippewa and Eau Claire counties..

Now, both Sacred Heart Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls are officially closed. The majority of Prevea facilities in the Chippewa Valley will close in the next couple of weeks. The emergency funding has still not been released.

On Tuesday, Governor Evers called for a special meeting to release the $15 million as the region’s new healthcare situation begins to solidify.

In their own statement on Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee co-chairs criticized the line item vetoes made by Governor Evers again, saying “As referenced by our letter last week, there continues to be a legal risk if the JFC undermines the legislative intent of bills vetoed by the Governor, which is a risk we will not take.”

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