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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Rural health leaders: WI task force should address regulatory issues for hiring

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024   

Gov. Tony Evers announced a new task force this week to address hiring issues within health care in Wisconsin.

Those speaking up for rural health access see opportunities. The panel is tasked with finding a range of solutions to consider by the time budget talks ramp up for the two-year spending plan starting in 2025. Evers' office said Wisconsin faces a potential deficit of 20,000 nurses by 2040, one among many concerning examples.

John Eich, director of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, said while there is a need in smaller communities, lower patient volumes make it hard for health systems to offer attractive salaries.

"It is harder to make the math work," Eich explained. "There's just not enough in the funding pools to pay for this to go away."

He added Wisconsin is competing with neighboring states for these workers. But Eich suggested regulations surrounding provider certification can make it harder for professionals from elsewhere in the country to transition to Wisconsin.

Eich hopes it is part of the discussion and there will be a bipartisan approach to solving the problem. However, the Republican-led Legislature has often clashed with Evers, a Democrat, on policy ideas.

Rural advocates have often noted fewer providers result in local patients having to travel a greater distance for appointments. Eich added it can affect the quality of care they receive.

"Maybe the staffing ratios are worse for patients," Eich noted. "I think there's a lot of ways that patients are not served as well."

The task force will be led by Lt. Gov. Sara Rodriguez, who is a registered nurse. Several state agencies, local governments, and patient advocacy groups also are expected to provide input.


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The 2024 Summer U.S. Conference of Mayors in Kansas City, Mo., will be under the leadership of its president, Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nev., and host Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
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