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Evers vetoes western Wisconsin hospital money; Republicans furious

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(The Center Square) – Some hospitals in western Wisconsin will soon be getting a piece of $15 million to continue their care, but many local lawmakers aren’t happy about how the money can be spent.

Republicans from the Chippewa Valley denounced Gov. Tony Evers’ partial veto of a plan to send the money to hospitals and clinics in and around Eau Claire. The lawmakers originally earmarked that money for emergency rooms and say the governor undercut them.

“We are extremely frustrated that the governor used his powerful veto pen to create a slush fund that won’t guarantee these funds are used to help the needs of the Chippewa Valley,” Rep Rob Summefield, R-Bloomer, said in a statement.

Summerfield, Rep. Clint Moses, R-Menomonie, Rep. Karen Hurd, R-Fall Creek, Rep. Warren Petryk, R-Town of Washington, Rep. Treig Pronschinske, R-Mondovi, Rep. Donna Rozar, R-Marshfield, Rep. Dave Armstrong, R-Rice Lake, and Rep. James Edming, R-Glen Flora, all signed the statement as well.

Lawmakers wanted to send the $15 million to emergency rooms because the Chippewa Valley will lose more than 35% of its ER capacity when Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls close in April.

The money, the Republicans said, was supposed to help the remaining ERs expand services.

Evers said he improved the plan with his changes.

“I’m proud to be securing $15 million in crisis response funding while using my constitutional veto authority to make improvements to ensure more flexibility so these critical resources can be used for any hospital services to meet the health care access needs of the Chippewa Valley region, no matter what they may be,” Evers said in his partial veto message.

Republicans say they are looking to see if they can redirect or work-around the governor’s veto.

“The governor’s actions…only further delay critical funds for our area to help heal from the wounds of the HSHS hospital closures,” the Republicans added in their statement. “We will continue to work with the Joint Finance Committee along with the Department of Health Services to ensure that this money will be used for its original intent which is to provide emergency services for Chippewa Valley services.”

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