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42 rural Wisconsin hospitals could lose Medicare reimbursements

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - If a federal watchdog has its way, 42 hospitals in Wisconsin would lose special Medicare reimbursements to treat patients in rural areas.

The inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department has proposed ending special rural service payments for two-thirds of the nation’s 1,300-plus critical access hospitals.

The inspector’s office says the hospitals are not located in areas that are sufficiently-remote.

Officials say the move could save Medicare just over $1 billion a year. The Obama White House has proposed a more limited reduction that would cut special aid to eight of Wisconsin’s 58 rural hospitals.

Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin is fighting that limited proposal, saying it would hurt the quality of health care in rural areas, and threaten their local economies.