More than 90 people gathered this week at the Teton County Library in Jackson to hear St. John's Medical Center CEO Dr. Lou Hochheiser explain health care reform.
Hochheiser told the crowd that as part of health care reform the federal government would be cutting what it pays hospitals to treat Medicaid and Medicare patients by five-to-25 percent. He said the goal is to use some of those savings to pay for expanding Medicaid coverage... essentially, paying less per patient in order to cover more people.
But Wyoming lawmakers voted in February against expanding Medicaid to over 17,000 uninsured state residents even though the federal government promised to foot the bill… And Hochheiser says that puts hospitals in a financial vice.
"Absolutely in the vice,” Hochheiser says. “We lose money from lower reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, and we don't get the benefit of having more people, who are eligible for this expanded Medicaid, to have some insurance."
When patients don't have insurance, he says hospitals are likely to get stuck with unpaid bills.
Hochheiser will answer more questions about health care reform at a second forum in May.