healthcare

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Services agency sixty days to flush out the details of how to force hospitals to be up front with patients about the costs of their procedures. It's intended to help average Americans shop around the marketplace for cheaper rates. And Wyoming's junior Senator John Barrasso is fully on board.

Melodie Edwards

Gary and Celeste Havener live forty miles outside of Laramie in southeast Wyoming. They spend a lot of their time growing vegetables and riding horses across the prairie.

Campbell County Health

Campbell County Health was ranked as one of the top places to work in healthcare this year. The list was put together by Becker's Hospital Review, a leading healthcare industry publication.

wyomingmedicalcenter.org

The closing of an inpatient psychiatric unit in Lander has highlighted another issue in the state's mental healthcare system. That's the difficulty of transporting a mentally ill patient to and from a hospital.

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With busy schedules, extra visitors and new toys, the holidays can introduce new hazards into an environment. According to the Nebraska Regional Poison Center, accidental poisonings increase over the holidays. 

The number of uninsured children across the country has increased for the first time in more than a decade.


Bob Beck

A Wyoming legislative committee has quietly put together a series of bills that is looking at the high cost of health care in the state as well as making health care more accessible. At a recent meeting of the legislature's Health and Labor Committee, Senator Charles Scott stated that consumers pay a lot for health care in the state.

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A plan to try to reduce health insurance premiums on the federal health care exchange was approved by a Wyoming legislative committee. 

healthcare.gov

The Wyoming legislature has a long history of exploring ways to get quality and affordable insurance to more citizens, but for a variety of reasons, nothing has really ever worked. The legislature has long opposed accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid due to fears that the money would eventually dry up and the state would have a program it could no longer afford. But there is not an available state solution either.

USDA

Hot Springs County Hospital in Thermopolis and Westward Heights Care Center in Lander received a combined $25.5 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. The hospitals will be using the funds to modernize and expand their facilities.

Market Summary of Cloud Peak Energy just after announcing its potential sale
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Cloud Peak Energy, one of the largest coal producers in the country with two mines in Wyoming, announced today it will review strategic alternatives which include a potential sale of the company. The announcement comes after company stock shares hit a 52-week low today at $1.32. That’s nearly half of its value from this time last year.

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Cloud Peak Energy

One of Wyoming’s largest coal companies cut health care benefits for its retired workers. In its third quarter report released October 25, Cloud Peak Energy said the move will provide it with $19.4 million in net income. It was announced to employees in August. The report also recounted an approximately 15 percent reduction in coal shipments compared to Q3 last year. Coal has been costlier to remove from the ground due to additional overburden from digging deeper.

Thursday, November 1 is the first day of the six-week open enrollment for health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. States in the Mountain West are seeing minor rate hikes — if any — this year.

Three states in the Mountain West have ballot initiatives this November focused on expanding access to Medicaid. Over time, these traditionally Republican states appear to have warmed to a program originally linked to the Affordable Care Act.

Denver is hosting one of the country's biggest nursing conferences. One issue on the agenda is the ongoing, nationwide nursing shortage.

Idaho and Utah voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid at the ballot this November. Those voters might want to look at a report out this week that assessed how the expansion of the federal health care program played out. 

If you’re poor and you get really sick in Idaho, your health care options might be really different than say, if you live in Colorado or Montana.

 


Utah-based hospital system Intermountain Healthcare released new details today about its plan to start manufacturing its own generic drugs. Representatives said it’s a new approach to driving down drug prices.

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.

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.

Teen birth rates have been going down for a while now but in one mountain west state -- Colorado --  they’ve gone down more than the rest of the nation. Could it be related to the national trend of kids having less sex or an attempt to make IUDs more accessible?

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. 

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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 / Wyoming Public Radio

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming is proposing to raise health insurance rates by 48 percent in the coming year. That would mainly impact the 28,000 Wyomingites who get their coverage via the Federal Health Insurance Exchange.  

Those off the exchange and who get group insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield could also see a substantial increase. Spokeswoman Wendy Curran explained that Blue Cross Blue Shield is nervous about proposed changes in the current health care law. She said they are particularly concerned about threats to remove cost shared reduction subsidies.

Bob Beck

As the Senate health insurance reform effort remains on life support, Wyoming’s two senators are pushing their Republican colleagues to get on board with the effort.

Senator John Barrasso literally burned the midnight oil on Wednesday when he invited a large group of Republican senators into his office for last minute negotiations on their party’s health insurance reform plan. Barrasso emerged late and was the last to address the thirty or so reporters who huddled outside for hours.  

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Wyoming’s two U.S. Senators have been at the center of their party’s effort to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, and they’re still optimistic they can pass a bill when they return to Washington after their July Fourth recess. Some have been critical of their work, mostly because Republicans have been negotiating their health insurance bill behind closed doors after holding no hearings on it this year. 

More healthcare providers around Wyoming are expressing worry over the Senate’s healthcare bill released last week.

The Downtown Clinic in Laramie provides primary care and emergency dental services to people without any healthcare coverage.

Pete Gosar, the clinic’s executive director, said the bill may make it more difficult to provide coverage there. The clinic recently had to extend its operating hours, staying open two days a week instead of one, to accommodate all 700 patients.

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