healthcare

A bill that would use federal money to help poor people buy insurance was soundly defeated in the Wyoming Senate.

The so-called Arkansas Plan would use federal Medicaid expansion money to help those who need insurance to buy it through the state.  Instead of people being on Medicaid, they would have actual insurance. 

The Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee recommended passing the bill last month, but Senator Charles Scott who chairs the committee voted against the bill because he says it's a long way from being workable for Wyoming.

In an effort to increase medical services to rural communities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are now accepting applications for the Frontier Community Health Integration Project (F-CHIP).

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Board of Medicine says a record number of physicians received licenses to practice in Wyoming last year.  The Board of Medicine’s Kevin Bohnenblust says 35 more physicians were licensed when compared to 2012 numbers, and overall they saw 15-percent more doctors compared to 2009.  He says that’s due to a new, simplified licensing process and the fact that many doctors include non-traditional approaches, such as telemedicine, in their practices.

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center is heading a statewide effort called Enroll Wyoming to help people get health insurance through the new online marketplace. The program has trained navigators across the state, including in Jackson where St. John's Medical Center and Teton County Library have teamed up to offer individualized sessions, designed to guide community members through healthcare.gov. Wyoming Public Radio's Rebecca Huntington has more. 

JULIE: I don't have Internet service myself, and so I was concerned about how I'm going to, you know, fill out this Obamacare insurance.

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A central mandate of the Affordable Care Act is getting health care professionals to communicate across disciplines.  A conference Thursday at the University of Wyoming brought health care leaders together to talk about how to better train students for doing that.

Brenda Zierler with the Center for Health Sciences at the University of Washington was one of the conference leaders.  She says it’s time to move past the old paradigm in which nurses, social workers and psychologists all learn their crafts in isolation. 

A study by the Government Accountability Office – or GAO - shows that it takes over one year for the Indian Health Service to process payments to contractors in 8-percent of claims.

The Indian Health Service provides limited medical services to tribal members and outsources other treatments through the contract health services program. The GAO’s Kathleen King says some payments are delayed because decisions about whether IHS will pay for a service are made on a case-by-case basis. 

The nonprofit organization Wyoming Dementia Care received a five thousand dollar grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America last week.

Wyoming Dementia Care provides cost-free social support and information to dementia sufferers, their families, and their caregivers.

Carol Crump with WDC says that the organization’s most popular service is a series of support groups for caregivers, who are often the dementia sufferer’s family.

Wyoming residents will get to choose from roughly 16 health insurance plans as the new federal health insurance marketplace opens up today.  While Wyoming premiums will be higher than the rest of the country,  Mike Fierberg of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid says that tax credits will help offset the cost.  He says credits will be available to low-income people, all the way up to salaries that are four-times the federal poverty level. 

St. John's Medical Center

St. John's Medical Center CEO Lou Hochheiser is presenting a series of public forums to help Teton County residents understand health care reform.

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health is trying to improve healthcare in rural communities by providing grant money for rural health centers.

The agency’s Keri Wagner says the money can be used to open new clinics, or to allow existing facilities to expand.

“Priority will be given to … applicants for new clinics in areas where access does not already exist,” Wagner said.

She added that while many areas in Wyoming don’t have access to good healthcare, money is not the only problem; it’s also hard to find doctors who are willing to live in rural areas.

Governor Matt Mead is urging legislators not to dismiss health care issues, but to study them and craft a Wyoming response to the Affordable Care Act.  During his state of the state message today, Mead asked legislators to study both the health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion. 

The Supreme Court, in a five-four decision, upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The justices ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the commerce clause, but can go ahead as a tax.

The individual mandate requires that all people must buy health insurance. For insurance companies, that means they’ll be getting a large, new pool of customers. In Wyoming, 17-percent of the population is currently uninsured, compared to a nationwide average of 16-percent.  

The Wyoming Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says that most complaints surrounding state prisons and jails involves improper medical of mental health care.  Much of that has to do with inmates not getting their necessary medication.