Wyoming Legislature update: CAH
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
November 24, 2015
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Hello Sublette County, I have had several conversations with county residents about my viewpoint on the proposal of the Sublette County Rural Health Care District (SCRHCD) Board to convert the Pinedale Clinic to a Critical Access Hospital (CAH). At this point I am neither for nor against the CAH, because I have not heard the results from the financial analysis being completed by the latest consultant. What I am sure of is that the status quo cannot continue. The SCRHCD is currently spending more than it takes in, and their mill levy valuation is shrinking due to the economics of Wyoming’s energy industry. I have suggested to the board that it should present to the public a suite of solutions to solve the current financial shortfall, including the CAH if the consultant’s projections are positive. Those solutions could involve reduced services to citizens of the county, or an increase in taxation to fill the gap. I like the current level of health care in this county, and I would hate to see a reduction in services on either end of the county. However, what are our options in obtaining this goal, and what will it cost us? The rural health care board has been grappling with this question for some time, and there are no easy decisions.
When I ran for office, I told the citizens of this county that I would do my best to support the locally elected boards in this county, because I do believe the best government is that closest to the people. The SCRHCD board asked me to help it seek the same opportunities in statute as hospital districts, and that is what I have done. I believe a rural health care district should have the same opportunities under the law as a hospital district. The Joint Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee found the SCRHCD’s position compelling, after it received testimony from the district, and drafted a bill to be presented at the upcoming session. This bill grants authority for a rural health care district to borrow on anticipated revenue, and to construct or own a hospital. The bill attempts to clarify that when voters approve additional mills the increase must continue to be put before the voters in future elections. The hospital district statutes and the proposed bill are both ambiguous regarding how much a district board can obligate the district by bonding through a financial institution for a construction project. I anticipate this language will be tightened up.
This bill will expand the authority of current rural health care boards. Therefore it seems prudent, that if the bill becomes law, it should not go into effect until after the next general election. This would give voters an opportunity to evaluate candidates prior to the election of a board with these expanded powers. The bill will likely be amended, and I would be interested in the opinions of citizens of Sublette County. The bill can be read at the following link: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/InterimCommittee/2015/10-1019APPENDIXO.pdf.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.