health care

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney helped her party pass a historic bill to unwind Obamacare, but its chances of passage in the Senate remain far from certain.

After House Republicans passed their bill to overturn Obamacare they walked out of the Capitol and were greeted with a few hundred protestors who were chanting shame.

But Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney was undeterred.

American Cancer Society

The Wyoming Primary Care Annual Conference takes place in Casper May 3 - 5, and will bring together health care providers from around the state. Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society Dr. Richard Wender will be speaking at the conference. He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about the state’s cancer risks and what the American Cancer Society is doing to address them.

meddata.com

Despite some recent setbacks, Congress will eventually move to either replace or make serious changes to the affordable care act. Wyoming’s congressional delegation says that should help reduce insurance premiums in the state, but that may not be the case. Wyoming saw a growth in those who have insurance under the affordable care act and current congressional fixes could do more harm than good. 

Bob Beck

The Republican Party hates so-called Obamacare, but when it comes to replacing the bill the party is divided over how to change the health care system.

You’ve heard about the angry protests at Republican town halls across the nation, but you may not know there’s also a heated debate happening inside closed door Republican meetings on Capitol Hill. The thirty or so member House Freedom Caucus voted as a block to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act before the party even has a replacement in hand.

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

Wyoming's two senators are set to play a key role in the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senate Republicans, led by Senator Mike Enzi took their first steps towards repealing the Affordable Care Act in a late night session.

pixabay.com

As the January 31 deadline approaches to sign up for health insurance under the government’s health care marketplace, Senate Republicans are beginning plans to repeal the law that created that program.

It’s still unclear how lawmakers will replace the Affordable Care Act if it is repealed, and experts around the country are unsure what a reformed health care system should look like.

Recover Wyoming

Earlier this month, authors in a new anthology on drug and alcohol recovery in Wyoming presented their work in Cheyenne.         

Laura Griffith is the founder of Recover Wyoming in Cheyenne and a former Wyoming Department of Health Treatment Manager. In the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division, Griffith took part in a special training called the Emerging Leaders of Recovery. 

Northern Arapaho officials on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming say they've experienced some bumps since the tribe took over management of their federal health clinic earlier this year.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has been working for many years to get full management of their health care system. In January, they finally took over for the Indian Health Services. Tribal Administrator Vonda Wells says the federal government has controlled the tribe’s health system since they were placed on the Wind River Reservation in the late 1800’s.

A conference next week in Riverton will explore the enormous health gap on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The life expectancy of Native Americans there is only 52 years old, compared to the national average of 78 years old. Northern Arapaho Social Services Director Allison Sage says the conference will bring together doctors, teachers, traditional healers and others to collaborate on solutions. He says there's especially a need for more doctors and better preventative and prenatal care.

Wyoming Medical Center

This February, the email accounts of two Wyoming Medical Center employees were compromised in a phishing scam. A phishing scam is an email that looks like it came from a credible source, and tricks the recipient into providing passwords and usernames in an attempt to access sensitive information. The scam won't work if the recipient ignores the email, and doesn't open any links.

When the two Wyoming Medical Center employees opened the email in a phishing scam, they potentially compromised the information of nearly 3,200 patients.

A national magazine has given Wyoming’s Board of Medicine low marks for failing to provide easy access to the disciplinary records of doctors in the state. 

Wyoming scored 27 out of a possible 100 points, placing the State Board of Medicine 6th from the bottom. California received the highest score with an 84. Wyoming Board of Medicine Director Kevin Bohenblust said his office has worked hard to make its website more user friendly and provide important information for residents. 

Bob Beck

  

Legislators have been talking about reforming health care in the state for at least 25 years. Access to health care providers is difficult, finding affordable health care is a challenge, and so after another Medicaid Expansion defeat the legislature’s Health and Labor committee spent the summer trying to find ways to improve health care in the state without spending much money. 

Gillette Representative Eric Barlow said the committee crafted 17 bills that will address a wide range of issues in health care. One bill involves nurses.

Healthcare.gov

 

Tuesday is an important date for those hoping to sign up for health insurance. Enrollment has been underway since November for those who purchase health care coverage through the federal marketplace via the website HealthCare.gov. Kevin Counihan oversees that effort and he joins Bob Beck to explain why Tuesday is so important.

 

Last night the U.S. Senate voted to repeal so-called Obamacare – no, don’t tune out. We know Republicans have done that dozens of times, but this time is different, or so they say. This ‘repeal’ is expected to make it to President Obama’s desk, and, as Matt Laslo reports from Washington, Wyoming’s two senators both played a key role in the effort.

You may or may not be aware, but one of Wyoming’s senators is a doctor. John Barrasso hates Obamacare so much he started hosting a YouTube show solely focused on derailing the president’s signature health care bill. 

WINhealth To Leave Wyoming

Oct 21, 2015

The health insurance company WINhealth will be pulling out of Wyoming. 

A variety of financial difficulties including low reimbursement via the Affordable Care Act is causing the company to leave Wyoming at the end of the year. Insurance Commissioner Tom Glause says the state will take over management of the company and make sure its financial obligations are taken care of.       

“Do not panic, your claims will continue to be processed and paid and we will assist in an orderly transition of those policies to another carrier.” 

Gonorrhea Cases Double

Jul 22, 2015
knowwyo.org

Wyoming health officials say they are seeing a gonorrhea outbreak. They had 61 reported cases earlier this month compared to a total of 31 last year. Half of the cases involve people in their 20’s.

The Director of the state’s communicable disease surveillance program, Courtney Smith, says the problem is that couples are not using condoms. 

Courtesy Annie E. Casey Foundation

Wyoming has improved in national child well-being rankings over the past year, but still ranks very low when it comes to child health. That’s according the Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday by the Annie. E Casey Foundation.

Wyoming saw improvements in economic well-being, education and family & community concerns—and rose from 19th to 16th place overall in the annual rankings. But the Cowboy State still ranks 45th in the nation for child health.

health.wyo.gov

Wyoming residents are being asked to discuss ways cancer can be better detected and treated at a meeting today in Casper. 

Julie Tarbuck oversees Wyoming’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Tarbuck says they are developing the next State Cancer Control plan and they want to develop new ways to address everything from diagnosis to quality of life.

She says overcoming the challenges faced by those in rural parts of the state remains an issue. For instance, Tarbuck says the lack of health care providers makes detection difficult.         

Wyoming Business Coalition On Health

An upcoming conference in Casper aims to address the high cost of health care for employers. “Victim to Victor – Taking Control of Your Healthcare Spending” is sponsored by the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health, and intends to educate businesses on how they can more efficiently manage health care costs.

Anne Ladd is the CEO of the coalition. She says the conference will elaborate on tools employees can use to make the most of their health care plans. It will also clarify for employers what drives health care costs.

Wyoming's Governor and Congressional delegation have been fighting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act for years.

But with Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling ruling “Obamacare” looks stronger than ever.

Wyoming Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne of Cheyenne says that might force state legislators to finally start talking about how they could work with federal healthcare policy.

Wyoming hospitals are breathing a sigh of relief following Thursday’s United States Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

The ruling allows 20,000 Wyoming residents to keep their subsidies to purchase health insurance via the federal Marketplace.

Wyoming Hospital Association president Eric Boley says, if the ruling had gone the other way, state hospitals would have seen a dramatic uptick in uncompensated care. But Wyoming hospitals are still facing imminent financial challenges.

Pharmacists are currently not recognized as health care providers and despite their obvious knowledge of medications, they are not currently allowed to help people manage their medication. There are two bills in Congress that could change that. Tom Menighan is the CEO of the American Pharmacists Association and he say this would help those in rural areas.

Bob Beck

Earlier this year when the legislature voted down Medicaid expansion, lawmakers realized that some hospitals were struggling to make up for the fact that some people cannot afford to pay their medical bills.  So after a lot of discussion, they provided roughly three million dollars to be spread among the smaller rural hospitals. But some thought that was not enough, so two legislative committees are looking into what else can be done to help. 

Wyoming’s decision to not set up a set health care marketplace could haunt it if the United States Supreme Court rules that federal marketplaces or exchanges cannot receive federal subsidies. The King vs. Burwell case could impact close to 20 thousand Wyoming residents, especially the 17 thousand who would lose subsidies to purchase insurance. 

Laramie’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital is considering an expansion that could lead to a new Internal Medicine Building among other things. 

Hospital CEO Doug Faus said the expansion also could include the Jeannie Ray Cancer Center, parking areas, and space for University of Wyoming Medical students who are part of the WWAMI  program. The biggest priority is the Internal Medicine building. Faus says a better facility will help recruit and keep doctors.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Legislature has approved a bill that is intended to help hospitals in the state cover costs for patients who cannot afford to pay for health care. 

After lawmakers rejected the $100 million a year in federal funds that would have come from Medicaid Expansion, this was viewed as a last ditch attempt to help hospitals. But opponents say the bill just throws money at the problem.

Senate Labor and Health Committee Chairman Charles Scott says the two and a half million dollars in the bill will help some of the small hospitals in the state.

The open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance starts November 15 and runs through February 15. That gives customers a short three-month window to sign up. There will not be another chance to enroll again until next November. Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig says a wide range of Wyoming residents qualify for government aid to help pay for the health insurance.

“That’s kind of the range,” he says. “A single person making $12,000 to, say, a family of four making $100,000. So as you can well imagine that encompasses a vast majority of the population of Wyoming.”

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the federal agencies in charge of Medicaid are open to innovative expansion proposals. He says that could convince legislators to adopt a Medicaid Expansion program in Wyoming. The proposal the state is working on would require those eligible for the program to contribute to it. 

While Wyoming residents strongly oppose the Affordable Care Act, residents are supportive of expanding Medicaid to provide health care to those who cannot afford it. A University of Wyoming election year survey conducted in mid - August found that only 24 percent of state residents approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 70 percent oppose it.  

University of Wyoming Political Scientist Jim King says people have a different opinion about Medicaid expansion.

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