To the Editor and the Community:
I want to take a moment to write first to thank those who responded to my previous letter by contacting their Congressman. Your letters of support for rural hospitals let our representatives know how important hospitals such as Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center are to their communities. I also wanted to give you an update of the current status.
A few months ago, I shared with you the news of potential cuts to the Medicare program that could particularly impact Critical Access Hospitals including Ministry Good Samaritan. Due to the lack of an agreement among the so-called Congressional “Supercommittee” tasked with the next phase of federal debt reduction, the Medicare program will instead enter the “Sequestration plan” beginning in January 2013. Under the Sequestration plan, the vast majority of Medicare providers, including all hospitals, will receive a two percent (2%) cut in Medicare reimbursement for treating patients. This will have a significant negative financial impact to Ministry Good Samaritan, which serves as the health care access point for our community.
There is an outside chance that between now and Jan. 1, 2013, Congress could reach an alternative plan. We continue to be concerned about the impact to the Medicare program, our hospital, and the patients we serve. We anticipate Critical Access Hospitals will continue to be under the microscope for potential policy changes that could pose a threat even greater than reimbursement cuts. We will continue to update our community as we move through this complex government process.
In recent weeks, we have been buoyed by tremendous support from patients, business leaders and the entire community, who truly believe our hospital is important, not just as a provider of health care, but as a key partner in our local economy, providing family-supporting jobs and linking to other business and economic vitality in Northcentral Wisconsin. Thank you for your support.
Samaritan Health Center
Letter to the Editor:
2011 has been a difficult year for some and also a heart-warming year. I am excited to return to Merrill and take on the United Way position and get my first annual campaign underway. Although I wasn’t born and raised in Merrill, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life living and working in and for this community. I recognize that the true fiber of Merrill is its people. The way that Merrill pulls together in good times and in bad times is wonderful.
Since returning, my eyes have been opened to the enormous needs that people have. There are so many agencies working hard to help people struggling to keep the electricity on, the rent paid, the family healthy and food on the table. The appeals are many and people are giving to these causes. As I worked one night last week, some elves showed up at the Community Care Center to organize gifts by family, gender, ages for the Christmas Spirit Appeal. The Merrill Fire Fighters and the Community Food Pantry have been actively working to make certain families have a holiday dinner and gifts for the children.
The efforts that go on behind the scenes are touching. We truly are fortunate to have some Christmas Angels that help make this the wonderful season it is. On behalf of the Merrill Area United Way, I want to say THANK YOU to all our donors. Many people give to multiple organizations. Merrill is a much better, stronger community because of you. May the holiday spirit and the generosity of Merrill citizens continue into 2012.