Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dr. Sherard: "Medicaid and Wyoming"

Dr. Brent Sherard writes a guest editorial, "Medicaid and Wyoming: Why It Matters," in today's Cowboy State Free Press. Sherard is head of the Wyoming Department of Health and the State Health Officer. To read the entire article, go to http://thewyonews.net/2009/12/22/medicaid-and-wyoming-why-it-matters/.

Here's a sample:

Wyoming EqualityCare, our state’s Medicaid program, pays for the healthcare many of our state’s low-income and medically vulnerable citizens desperately need. Medicaid is roughly a 50-50 financial partnership between states and the federal government. The federal contribution is calculated every federal fiscal year using the relationship of Wyoming’s average per capita income to the national average per capita income.

Approximately 81,000 Wyoming residents qualified for the program in the last fiscal year, which represents 15 percent of our population. Wyoming EqualityCare accounts for about 12 percent of the entire budget of Wyoming’s state government, annually spending about $500 million.

Any big change to the program or adjustment to its budget affects us all in one way or another. The money does not just disappear down a bureaucratic black hole; it is spent with local doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers in every Wyoming community.

Included in the Senate health reform bill is a $1 billion Medicaid increase to states that provide visiting nurses and other in-home or community services to prevent low-income people from needing to be admitted to hospitals. Wonder if Wyoming will receive some of those funds?

We'll have to see how it all shakes out.

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