Wyoming Medical Center CEO Wary Of Senate Health Bill

Jun 23, 2017

Credit Wyoming Medical Center

The U.S. Senate released its version of a healthcare bill Thursday. Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso helped craft the legislation, and they say it will be an improvement over the Affordable Care Act. But the head of the state's largest hospital is worried.

Vickie Diamond, CEO of the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, said ultimately the bill would hurt hospitals in Wyoming. She said the biggest impact would be from the bill’s significant decrease in federal Medicaid funding, starting in 2021.

“I think it’s going to force us all to take a look at what kind of care we can provide to people. And it’s going to force the state to say ‘How many people can we afford to do on Medicaid?’ because it’s forcing the state to pick up the biggest majority of the healthcare costs,” said Diamond.

The Wyoming Legislature has rejected Medicaid expansion for the last several years, and has pushed the federal government for more leeway in how federal dollars are spent.  

Projections for inflation in the bill are based on the simple Consumer Price Index, which is lower than the Consumer Price Index for medical costs. Diamond said that could also spell problems.

“We’re not going to keep up with inflation. It’s going to force us to probably ration what drugs people get and that kind of thing, so it’s not going to be good for citizens in the long-run,” Diamond said.

The Congressional Budget Office has yet to review the bill and offer its estimation of costs. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell may push for a vote on the bill as early as next week.