Health Committee meeting in Lovell this week

North Big Horn County citizens are reminded that the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee is meeting in Lovell this week.

The committee is meeting at the Lovell Community Center, and work began Wednesday at 8 a.m. and continues at 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday.

Rep. Elaine Harvey (R-Lovell) is chairman of the House committee and Sen. Charles Scott (R-Casper) chairs the Senate committee.

Other members of the joint committee are Sen. Dan Dockstader (R-Afton), Sen. Marty Martin (D-Superior), Sen. Leslie Nutting (R-Cheyenne), Sen. John Schiffer (R-Kaycee), Rep. Joseph Barbuto (D-Rock Springs), Rep. Bernadine Craft (D-Rock Springs), Rep. Gerald Gay (R-Casper), Rep. Keith Gingery (R-Jackson), Rep. Matt Greene (R-Laramie), Rep. David Miller (R-Riverton), Rep. Frank Peasley (R-Douglas) and Rep. Tom Reeder (R-Casper).

Rep. Elaine Harvey of Lovell, pictured Wednesday morning, chairs the Joint Labor, Health and Social Serves Committee meeting at the Lovell Community Center this week.

On Thursday, Sept. 6, the committee will continue to look at issues related to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), in particular funding status of certain projects. Harvey said the discussion will include how much money the federal government plans to contribute to TANF and what the projected needs are for the program.

The committee will also discuss the “welfare-to-work” program, which requires recipients to go to work after five years of assistance.

There will also be a discussion about Medicaid enrollment fraud and the status of prevention efforts.

At 10:30 a.m. the Health Insurance Exchange Steering Committee will provide an update of information related to interstate compacts.

At 11 a.m., Darnell Simpson, President of the Chiropractors Association in Wyoming will address the committee with regard to updating the laws and issues related to chiropractic practice in the state.

At 1:30 p.m., the Dept. of Health will discuss issues related to Medicaid options. Harvey said she expects the discussion around information obtained in a recent Medicaid options study to be one of the “meatier” discussions of the meeting.

A Medicaid cost study will also be reviewed and a statistical analysis of Medicaid paid childbirths in Wyoming will also be discussed. The discussion will also include a discussion about reimbursement rates for critical access hospitals and nursing homes.

At 4:30 p.m. Steve Bahmer of the Wyoming Hospital Association will speak, along with CEOs from area hospitals, including Rick Schroeder, Jackie Claudson and Bill Patten. The CEOs are expected to testify about how the proposed Medicaid rates will affect the viability of critical access hospitals in Big Horn and neighboring counties. The discussion will be followed by a public comment period.

On Friday, Sept. 7, the committee will begin the meeting at 8 a.m. and will continue to discuss Medicaid if necessary.

At 10 a.m. a trend analysis regarding developmental preschool funding will take place. Harvey expects this to be a “hot potato” topic about a program she considers highly successful with a small financial margin and heavy political backing.

At 10:30 a.m., Dr. Braund, Director of Forsland, will speak on the topic of public health nursing.

At 11:30 a.m. Toni Decklever of the Wyoming Nurses Assoc. will talk about the Wyoming Center for Nursing and healthcare partnerships.

At 1:30 p.m. Bob Fecht of the Wyoming Health Resources Network will speak.

At 2 p.m. Bill Sexton, Administrator of the State Hospital, will testify by phone about cost drivers for geriatric long-term care waivers.

At 3 p.m., there will be a discussion about substance abuse and prevention services, followed by a public comment period.

The meeting will conclude with general committee business like bill requests, and the next meeting will be scheduled.

This is an open meeting and the public is invited to attend the entire session, Harvey said.

By David Peck and Patti Carpenter