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Committee Begins Work On Finding Health Care Solutions

Ivinson Memorial Hospital

Wyoming lawmakers are considering working with communities to allow them to determine their own health care needs.

The Joint Labor and Health committee is trying to find ways to improve health care in the state and reduce costs to hospitals. Hospitals say the care they are required to provide to poor and uninsured patients is costing them millions.

Hospitals had wanted the legislature to expand Medicaid to address some of their financial losses, but instead, lawmakers provided nearly 2 million dollars to the state's smallest hospitals. Eric Boley of the Wyoming Hospital Association said something needs to change.
“We have some that are definitely on the cusp of some real financial problems. I think the little bit of money that we were able to get em will help them. But with no real clear direction or hope for the few with Medicaid expansion, we have to find a way to shore them up and strengthen them.”

Instead of finding ways to pay hospitals, the committee is looking at other approaches. Gillette Representative Eric Barlow said one solution is to work with counties to see how they can provide services that will keep people out of the emergency room. 

“How can we give communities, whether its hospitals, its clinics, its private practitioners, and public health may be involved…etc. Some tools and the ability to coordinate and to consider their local needs and give them support.”

Barlow said they can provide both expertise and grant funding to counties. Senator Charles Scott told the committee some hospitals could face dire financial straits soon. The committee will spend the next several months crafting possible solutions. 

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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