Sunday, November 01, 2009

In Cheyenne, the uninsured are up the creek

Great series of health care articles by Michelle Dynes in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. The headline for the front-page article was "Resources shrink for uninsured." The main resource that is shrinking for the local uninsured is the Cheyenne Community Clinic, which will close on Dec. 31 for lack of funding. Laramie County United Way did not approve the clinic's latest funding request -- it gets more than half of its $190,00 budget from LCUW.

Other local entities feeling the pinch are the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center's emergency room, the Cheyenne Community Clinic, University of Wyoming's Family Medicine Residency program and Access Health Care.

Access Health Care's Dr. Jason Bloomberg "said he wishes that Wyoming congressional delegates would take the time to volunteer at one of the clinics that serve the uninsured."

That would be a learning experience. Especially for Dr. John Barrasso (R-WY), who consistently votes against health care reform. You'd think a doctor would know better.

Here are some facts and figures from the article which may or may not astound you

CRMC emergency room saw 37,000 patients this year; 24,000 four years ago.

Fifteen percent of Laramie County's population are totally uninsured, without even Medicare and Medicaid; that's 12,320 people.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: 49,988 working Wyomingites went without health insurance coverage between 2006-2007; 42,433 working Wyomingites went without coverage between 1994-1995.

The UW Program recorded 32,000 patients visits in 2008, 9,800 in 2004.

The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation: Uninsured cancer patients are more likely to be diagnosed later and to die earlier than those with insurance.

These are sobering statistics. It appears that we all have someone in our neighborhood without health insurance. And that neighbor is probably working.

What are we going to do about this?

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