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Rural Health Care Revenues Sag in Pandemic, Depend on Federal Subsidy

I remain fascinated at the fact that, so far in South Dakota, the biggest problem our hospitals have faced is not too many patients but too few. But sensible social distancing has led us all to skip our checkups and elective procedures, creating financial woes for every South Dakota hospital, big and small.

But the coronavirus recession only exacerbates a fundamental preëxisting condition of our rural hospitals: they can’t survive in the free market and must rely on government support to survive:

“Do I think rural health care is at risk? Absolutely,” said Thomas Worsley, president of Spearfish Hospital and Hills Markets for Monument Health, the largest medical system in West River with its flagship hospital in Rapid City and smaller facilities in Hot Springs, Custer, Sturgis, Lead-Deadwood, Wall and Buffalo, among others. “It’s always going to be at risk because it’s not a profitable endeavor or something that is going to attract big dollars, but it’s something that fills a real need in these rural communities” [Bart Pfankuch, “Pandemic Threatens Fragile Rural Health-Care System in South Dakota,” South Dakota News Watch, 2020.06.24].

Howard-based Horizon Health Care (perhaps the last major outfit based in Howard) saw half of its revenue dry up due to coronavirus and is weathering the recession with $3 million in CARES Act money, but even in good times, they stay afloat with federal help:

The aid and bounceback in procedures have been critical to Horizon, based in Howard, S.D., but especially to its patients in rural communities who are never turned away because of ability to pay, Erickson said. About a third of Horizon’s funding comes from the federal government, and about 20% of its patients are uninsured [Pfankuch, 2020.06.24].

So much for that Freedom™ Kristi Noem keeps talking about. As Pfankuch reports, in good times and bad, we get less access to health care and worse health outcomes, and what health care we do get subsists on federal subsidies for services we can’t collectively afford.


  1. Bob Newland 2020-06-26 13:26

    Ed Randazzo has CV19. Guess he didn’t pray hard enough.

  2. jerry 2020-06-26 14:15

    trump calls anyone who gets the Covid19 a loser. So the rest of the trumpian hyenas will put a running iron brand L on ol Ed the Head’s melon.

  3. Debbo 2020-06-26 20:59

    Another example of socialism for SD. Thank heaven for that, otherwise there would be more dead folks in the state.

  4. jerry 2020-06-29 17:17

    Apple, Microsoft, Home Depot, Visa, the list goes on of who is getting bailout money from the FED, us taxpayers to keep the stock market up. Biggest heist since the last one in 2008-2009.

    As the Federal Reserve moves deeper into its purchases of corporate debt, it faces more questions about the consequences of its unprecedented market interventions.

    Disclosures filed this week surrounding its credit facilities show the Fed is not only buying the bonds of struggling companies hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic but also some of the stalwarts of American industry — Microsoft, Visa and Home Depot just to name three companies whose debt the Fed holds directly.

    The Fed holds an expansive list of other companies indirectly, including names like Apple and Goldman Sachs, through exchange-traded funds it has purchased.”

    When the walls come tumbling down, will we be surprised when they tell us that we will have to have austerity to pay for it all?

  5. jerry 2020-09-18 16:40

    No real subsidy money for schools and hospitals, but lookee here, it’s BRIBE season. Another 14 billion in bribe money to farmers, how about that, everyone gets a date to the prom. So why bother harvesting when you can just kick back and let the good times roll and wait for your check to roll in.

    “The federal government said Friday that it will give farmers an additional $14bn to compensate them for the difficulties they have experienced selling their crops, milk and meat because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The United States Department of Agriculture released details of its plan that it said will provide “financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic”.

    Keep your hand out boys, there probably will be another check in the mail before the election, better hope like hell the post office is still open.

  6. Debbo 2020-09-18 18:44

    It’s a bribe for those Iowa votes.

  7. mike from iowa 2020-09-18 18:48

    drumpf promised 13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico to shore up the hispanic vote in Florida. Moar bribes.

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