Sheridan County officials and administrators of the county hospital have urged passage of a bill that would require all Wyoming hospitals to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Action came during the opening session Wednesday of this year's legislative forum in Sheridan.
County Commissioner Steve Maier and hospital CEO Mike McCafferty said hospitals in Wyoming are currently on an uneven playing field. They said public hospitals are required to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients but the state's private hospitals are not. It's a problem, he said, because hospitals depend on revenues from self-paid and insured patients to make up losses because a typical Wyoming hospital receives less than 79 percent of the cost of treating Medicare patients and 71 percent of costs for those under Medicaid.
The result, he said, can be a loss to county hospitals of the patients they need to subsidize Medicare and Medicaid patients. So, the county hospital might need to discontinue necessary, but costly, services like dialysis, home health and hospice care, and/or receive tax subsidies from the local government.
The legislative forum provided an opportunity for county residents, organization leaders and government officials to express concerns and support for legislation coming up this session in Cheyenne. The forum continues today in the council chambers on the third floor of Sheridan's City Hall and is open to the public. It's sponsored by the governmental affairs committee of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.