health care

During the 2017 fiscal year, our region received a collective $10 million in grant funding through a federal program called Title X, the brunt of it going to state health departments to support family planning services, especially for low-income and underserved patients.

Now the Trump administration is proposing changes to the program, which has been around for almost 50 years.

Idaho officially joined Utah today as the third state to try to expand Medicaid by ballot initiative.

barrasso.senate.gov

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso has been a leading player in his party’s years-long effort to repeal and replace so-called Obamacare, but the GOP has failed to deliver.

PRICE, UTAH — On a scorching day in mid-June, KOAL Castle Country Radio host Dave Hocanson was taking a break from airing conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to promote a $175 pie.

Protests and blockades of clinics that perform abortions are up dramatically around the nation, including Colorado, the first state in the union to pass a law legalizing abortion more than fifty years ago.  

A new health care study shows that so-called “deaths of despair” have doubled in the U.S. in recent years, but Wyoming is among the ten states struggling with the problem the least. That’s according to the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard, a report on state health care systems. But in general, the report shows that Wyoming’s health care is still lagging in many areas, coming in 33rd in the country overall.

If you’re looking for a new primary care doctor in states like Idaho or Wyoming, good luck. Our region has some of the worst doctor shortages of all U.S. states.


Northern Arapaho Tribe

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has announced it will no longer use the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program but instead will self-insure tribal employees in hopes of moving toward greater tribal sovereignty. Last year, the tribe took over the management of their health clinics, too.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton

The Wyoming Department of Health has added two vaccines to the list of those required for children to attend school or daycare in the state. One of the two is a vaccine for rotavirus, which affects the stomach and intestines. According to State Epidemiologist Alexia Harrist, the rotavirus vaccine can only be given to babies younger than eight months old.

Governor Matt Mead
Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead was in Washington for the National Governors Association Meeting and the nations opioid crisis was a central focus.

The nation is now annually witnessing as many deaths from Opioids and heroin in the nation as were lost during the entire Vietnam War. Governor Mead says policymakers have to think more broadly about the crisis. 

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health recently rolled out a new mobile phone app intended to provide health tracking and management tools to families across Wyoming. The app’s features include height and weight trackers, as well as feeding and growth trackers for pregnant moms and newborns. By entering their zip code, residents can also access local resources. 

Dr. James Bush, Wyoming’s Medicaid director, said the app initially began as a project solely for pregnant women, but has since expanded, and is designed to work well for Wyomingites from all stages of life.

Wyoming Medical Center

A study of seven rural states by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that there are challenges to health care delivery. One of the states it studied was Wyoming which has fewer doctors, higher workplace deaths and problems with substance abuse. Heidi Schultz is the Rural Healthcare Program Officer with the Helmsley Trust, which has partnered with the Bipartisan Policy Center. She tells Bob Beck that Wyoming only has 65 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, much lower than the national average. 

Wyoming Department of Health

Nearly 3,000 kids in Wyoming have access to a highly subsidized health insurance through a program called Kid Care CHIP operated by the Wyoming Department of Health. Those kids could lose that coverage as soon as April, if Congress does not re-authorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

 

Wyoming Retirement System

Lots of people look forward to retirement, but the majority has not set aside enough money to retire. Much of that has to do with unexpected costs. 

University of Wyoming Extension Specialist Cole Ehmke has looked at a lot of studies surrounding personal financial management. He said some of the numbers are alarming. 

Credit Courtesy MedicareSupplementplans.com

It’s open enrollment time for Medicare recipients. This is when you should review your drug coverage and sign up for a plan. Kelly Wicks is the Wyoming State Health Insurance Information program manager. She helps people review their coverage and she tells Bob Beck it’s not uncommon for people to need to switch plans. 

Matt Laslo

Wyoming’s senators are supporting a massive bill to overhaul the nation’s health care system next week.

The new GOP health bill eliminates the mandate that every American must have health insurance and it ends the Obamacare subsidies that help many Wyomingites afford insurance. The new proposal does maintain some taxes under the Affordable Care Act but then sends that money back to the states as a block grant, which Wyoming Senator John Barrasso likes. 

Courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A new study shows that more Wyoming teens are overweight. The National Survey of Children’s Health says that Wyoming young people have the 14th lowest obesity rate in the nation, but the obesity rate is still higher than it was ten years ago. 

The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Trust for America’s Health. 

Report spokesman Albert Lang said Wyoming children between the ages of ten and 17 have an obesity rate at 27.1 percent, an increase from over a decade ago. Lang added that they see a similar trend with other Wyomingites.      

Public Domain

As national confusion over the future of health care continues, an organization in Wyoming is pressing hospitals to be more transparent.

Twelve hospitals across the state participated in a survey by the Leapfrog Group, which works with the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health to evaluate providers in the state. 

Bob Beck

 

One of the major problems in Wyoming is the lack of affordable health care. It’s an old issue and while health insurance is certainly a piece, there are few affordable places people can go who are without insurance or who are underinsured with high deductibles. For many years Laramie has had a clinic for very low-income people, it now has another health clinic for those who have fallen through the cracks.

Photo by Sarah Mirk with use under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Following the presidential election, family planning centers in Wyoming experienced a sharp increase in women seeking long-term contraceptives. Recently, that’s begun to slow down. Now, concern from the centers is about around funding and healthcare access.

 

Planned Parenthood clinics across the country saw an unprecedented rise in donations following the election, mainly because of threats to its future funding.

 

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney helped her party pass a historic bill to unwind Obamacare, but its chances of passage in the Senate remain far from certain.

After House Republicans passed their bill to overturn Obamacare they walked out of the Capitol and were greeted with a few hundred protestors who were chanting shame.

But Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney was undeterred.

American Cancer Society

The Wyoming Primary Care Annual Conference takes place in Casper May 3 - 5, and will bring together health care providers from around the state. Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society Dr. Richard Wender will be speaking at the conference. He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about the state’s cancer risks and what the American Cancer Society is doing to address them.

meddata.com

Despite some recent setbacks, Congress will eventually move to either replace or make serious changes to the affordable care act. Wyoming’s congressional delegation says that should help reduce insurance premiums in the state, but that may not be the case. Wyoming saw a growth in those who have insurance under the affordable care act and current congressional fixes could do more harm than good. 

Bob Beck

The Republican Party hates so-called Obamacare, but when it comes to replacing the bill the party is divided over how to change the health care system.

You’ve heard about the angry protests at Republican town halls across the nation, but you may not know there’s also a heated debate happening inside closed door Republican meetings on Capitol Hill. The thirty or so member House Freedom Caucus voted as a block to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act before the party even has a replacement in hand.

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

Wyoming's two senators are set to play a key role in the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senate Republicans, led by Senator Mike Enzi took their first steps towards repealing the Affordable Care Act in a late night session.

pixabay.com

As the January 31 deadline approaches to sign up for health insurance under the government’s health care marketplace, Senate Republicans are beginning plans to repeal the law that created that program.

It’s still unclear how lawmakers will replace the Affordable Care Act if it is repealed, and experts around the country are unsure what a reformed health care system should look like.

Recover Wyoming

Earlier this month, authors in a new anthology on drug and alcohol recovery in Wyoming presented their work in Cheyenne.         

Laura Griffith is the founder of Recover Wyoming in Cheyenne and a former Wyoming Department of Health Treatment Manager. In the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division, Griffith took part in a special training called the Emerging Leaders of Recovery. 

Northern Arapaho officials on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming say they've experienced some bumps since the tribe took over management of their federal health clinic earlier this year.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has been working for many years to get full management of their health care system. In January, they finally took over for the Indian Health Services. Tribal Administrator Vonda Wells says the federal government has controlled the tribe’s health system since they were placed on the Wind River Reservation in the late 1800’s.

A conference next week in Riverton will explore the enormous health gap on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The life expectancy of Native Americans there is only 52 years old, compared to the national average of 78 years old. Northern Arapaho Social Services Director Allison Sage says the conference will bring together doctors, teachers, traditional healers and others to collaborate on solutions. He says there's especially a need for more doctors and better preventative and prenatal care.

Wyoming Medical Center

This February, the email accounts of two Wyoming Medical Center employees were compromised in a phishing scam. A phishing scam is an email that looks like it came from a credible source, and tricks the recipient into providing passwords and usernames in an attempt to access sensitive information. The scam won't work if the recipient ignores the email, and doesn't open any links.

When the two Wyoming Medical Center employees opened the email in a phishing scam, they potentially compromised the information of nearly 3,200 patients.

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