On the campaign trail, I have been discussing rural health frequently. It’s vital for all of us in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. We cannot fall victim to for-profit models and become a healthcare desert.
Last week, Munson Healthcare in Northern Michigan announced it's trimming inpatient services at rural northern Michigan hospitals. This week, McLaren is closing an eight-bed
hospice house in Cheboygan. Some fearing closure in Petoskey soon to follow.
"Insurmountable staffing constraints," "rising expenses and regulatory burden," and "reduced funding and reimbursement" were cited as reasons. Why is hospice chosen for cuts to address these issues, and not other expenses, like executive salaries?
Trump created a 21% excise tax on all nonprofit compensation over $1 million a year, so McLaren had to pay over $1 million on CEO Philip Incarnati's 2020 salary of $8.1 million.
Constituents are worried that non-profit and for-profit healthcare models are now indistinguishable, and healthcare providers cannot meet patient needs. It doesn't sit well with many Northern Michiganders that McLaren states a lack of funds is a reason to close their loved ones' hospice options.
Administrative salaries are too high, and medical care is limited because there "isn't enough money."
In rural parts of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive can be critical. The distance required to travel to primary or specialty clinics can also be a matter of life and death. The absence of hospitals, maternity services, and hospice care in these areas further puts the lives of the residents at risk.
Saving rural lives must be a bigger priority. If hospitals are only attracted to "profitable" geographic areas, people in districts like Michigan's 1st will suffer.
This is precisely why we need a doctor in the House to fight for Medicare for All.
Munson to trim inpatient services at rural northern Michigan hospitals
Munson's decision to trim inpatient services at rural northern Michigan hospitals underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive and proactive long-term plan for rural medical care.
Currently, healthcare decisions in these areas are often reactive, resulting in staffing shortages, high costs, and insufficient revenue.
It is crucial that we transition towards a more needs-driven approach, where decisions and innovation are based on the requirements of the community.
We must develop a well-crafted healthcare plan for our district, with the active participation of Munson and other key stakeholders in Northern Michigan.
As one of the largest employers in the region, Munson’s involvement is vital.
Until we pass universal healthcare and move away from a for-profit model, to save lives it’s critical we foster collaboration between private and public entities and create a sustainable healthcare system that caters to the unique needs of our rural communities.
Consider the pressing questions that confront us: the response time of ambulances, the accessibility of primary and specialty clinics, and the availability of hospitalization and maternity services.
It is imperative that we embrace a proactive approach to address the healthcare needs of rural northern Michigan.