Rural hospitals take unique approach to health care for the poor

Minnesota Public Radio, September 16, 2010

Even rural hospitals that chose not to enroll in the scaled back GAMC program will lose millions of dollars this year providing charity care for the state's poorest adults. That's because those hospitals are no longer reimbursed.

A growing number of hospitals are taking unusual steps to cut their losses and still provide care for the poorest of the poor.

Tri-County Hospital in Wadena projected it would lose about $850,000 each year providing health care no longer covered by GAMC. This summer, the hospital began an experiment.

Working through Wadena County, the hospital started paying insurance premiums so that about 100 GAMC patients could shift over to the more comprehensive MinnesotaCare insurance program.

Tri-County Hospital CEO Joel Beiswenger says the premiums cost the hospital about $10 a month per GAMC patient. But he says the move will cut the hospital's annual losses in half.

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