By Sheila Bush
Wyoming Medical Society
The final meeting of the interim for any Legislative subcommittee is frenzied as the committee convenes for the last time of the year and decides which bills to sponsor before the start of the upcoming session.
Making December’s Joint Labor, Health, and Social Services meeting in Cheyenne more interesting was the fact the 2016 committee members were joined by newly-appointed members of the subcommittee for the 2017 session. That meant seven new members on the House side of the committee, as well as a lot of time spent offering the new members an overview of committee work from the past year.
Despite all that, the committee took on a two-day agenda that saw it discuss EMS licensure-interstate compact, WDH budget cut update, CHIP program amendments, Multi-payer Claims Database/State Administered Health Insurance, State Health Facilities, Title 25, the UW Family Residency Program, and Telehealth and Insurance Parity.
Among the highlights were the vote to move forward an EMS Licensure Compact as a committee bill, which generally means a better chance of passing the Legislature as a whole. The EMS licensure compact is model legislation pertaining to EMS personnel licensure and will require a minimum of 10 states adopt the language through the legislative process to take effect. Thus far there are seven states who have gone through the process including Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Much like the physician and nursing licensure compacts, Wyoming would benefit by streamlining the licensure process, by reducing liability for EMS personnel, and by moving to standardized competency testing.
The committee also heard reports from the Wyoming Department of Health on a few items of interest to Wyoming Medical Society members.
The Department of Health’s study on the Multi-Payer Claims Database suggested the best way for such a database to develop was to join an existing database at a quoted cost to the state of $320,000 annually. The conversation regarding the database was fairly brief with legislators indicating hesitation to do anything until they know more about what the new Presidential administration will do with health policy.
KidCare CHIP remains a popular program of Wyoming physicians though there could be some changes coming to the program. There are some amendments as a result of the 2009 CHIP Reauthorization ACT that requires a state to implement aspects of managed care into CHIP programs facilitated in each state. Wyoming’s CHIP program is currently administered by Blue Cross Blue Sheild (BCBS) and Delta Dental.
A new RFP for that contract was released Dec 1 and is due back to the state Dec 20. BCBS is bidding on the contract with efforts to bring the program into compliance with the federal requirements. CHIP is authorized through September of 2019, but only funded through September of 2017. The concern is that if a successful bidder is not chosen within the time frame that the contract reverts back to the state. WMS would have concern if this contract was removed from the private sector where it is administered currently and placed back within Medicaid because reimbursements to providers currently within CHIP are higher than what Medicaid would pay and the belief is that that would change if the state pulls this contract back within state administration.
UW Family Residencies were a big piece of the afternoon with the University and WDH presenting the Final UW Residency study and Presentation and Rep. Sue Wilson presenting the legislative update and context for the studies. The general message was that a lot of work needs yet to be done, but that the University will embark on a six month study with consultants to analyze rural health care and Medical Education as a whole, including WWAMI. The University will present recommendations to the UW Board of Trustees in June in advance of their budget planning for the 2018 budget session. WMS Executive Director Sheila Bush testified to the importance of the residency programs, the economic impact of physicians on the local economy using 2014 AMA numbers and availing our organization as a trusted resource as the Committee navigates these difficult conversations.