DONNELLSON, Ia. (WGEM) -- Rural hospitals in the Tri-States are struggling to stay open.
On Tuesday, Keokuk Area Hospital CEO Wally Winkler sounded off to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley about missed Medicare and Medicaid payments. He said the hospital will have to close if the lack of payment continues.
Grassley made the rounds across the state today for multiple town hall meetings. When he got to Donnellson, the fight to keep rural hospitals afloat dominated the conversation.
Winkler came to the town hall meeting with grave concerns about the future of his hospital. He said unbalanced Medicare and Medicaid payments could force his hospital to shut down if they don't get help from politicians like Grassley.
"He knows that it is a serious issue in the Keokuk Area Hospital. We are really not asking for anything any other community has. We just would hopefully like to have equitable reimbursements as other hospitals and without that we are in jeopardy of losing our hospital and a very valuable community resource," said Winkler
Winkler said the way to turn his hospital around is by receiving status as a critical access hospital, receiving government payments to serve rural patients.
Grassley said that he agrees with Winkler.
"I think they still need additional help and they are asking for a waiver to become a critical access hospital and I will have to support that effort with HHS," said Grassley.
Winkler says he is confident that if a thorough check is done on his hospital they will receive critical access status.
"I think if the entire Keokuk situation is actually reviewed that appeal could probably be approved and we hope that he would support that and follow up with CMS to support that appeal," said Winkler.
Winkler invited Grassley to tour the hospital to see what the community would be missing if it was forced to close.