Sheridan educators could see costs for health care go up

Nov 21, 2011

Officials at Sheridan Memorial Hospital have been notified that the hospital could be downgraded from a tier one hospital to tier two by the Wyoming School Board Association Insurance Trust otherwise known as WSBAIT. The rating does not reflect the level of service provided by Sheridan Memorial, but rather reflects that educators covered by WSBAIT will now have to pay more out of pocket for services at the hospital than to hospitals rated tier one by the trust.

Sheridan Memorial CEO Mike McCafferty says the process goes like this: A representative from WSBAIT calls up and asks for more discounts for their insurers, and if the hospital refuses, they get downgraded. By moving to tier two, Sheridan teachers may have to pay a 40-percent insurance co-pay, or travel to a hospital ranked tier one and pay 20-percent.

In April, Wyoming Public Radio investigated finances and internal documents of WSBAIT and concluded that in 2009, the Trust was running a 3.4 million dollar deficit and might have been struggling to pay claims. Sheridan Memorials Mike McCafferty says that investigation as well as other documents drew their attention.

“All I can say is there appeared to be some things going on there that would lead an organization to do the types of things they’re doing with regard to contracting and premiums and those types of things,” says McCafferty.

McCafferty says he hopes negotiations with WSBAIT will not result in community members having to go elsewhere for service. McCafferty also says that many procedures at Sheridan Memorial are already lower than most hospitals in the state, and says they don’t feel they need to continue discounting prices.

Officials at the Wyoming Insurance Department launched an investigation into the Trust in April. However, neither department officials nor representatives from WSBAIT were available for comment on the status of that investigation.