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Health commission prepares for final year
August 20th, 2008


TUESDAY APRIL 15, 2008 :: Last modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 2:06 AM MDT
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Health commission prepares for final year

By ALLISON RUPP
Star-Tribune staff writer

The Wyoming Healthcare Commission sunsets in the summer of 2009, but commissioners say they still have a lot of work to do.

At Monday's meeting in Casper, commissioners stressed the need for the commission to figure out how to best use its resources over the next year and a half.
"I don't want to sound cliche, but what is the legacy of the Healthcare Commission?" said Beth Worthen, assistant director of the commission.

Worthen laid out a timeline for the commissioners to follow. The first thing they need to do, she said, is review all the reports the commission has done since its inception in 2003 to determine what is still relevant, what hasn't been addressed yet and what data still needs to be collected.

The organization conducted numerous studies on medical errors, rural health care delivery and the nursing shortage in Wyoming, among others.

The commissioners will then draft a report of recommendations to present to the Joint Labor, Health and Human Services Interim Committee in August.

After receiving feedback from legislators, the governor's office and community members, the commission will finalize the recommendations, Worthen said.

Rep. Jack Landon, R-Sheridan, recommended the Healthcare Commission examine a bill from the 2008 session that would have created an insurance pool for working people who make too much to be covered by Medicaid but don't receive insurance through work.

Senate File 85, which was spearheaded by Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, died in the House because legislators, the Healthcare Commission and other organizations had too many questions about it.

"I am looking forward to having the Healthcare Commission look at this," Landon said.

The commission didn't know about the bill until it was presented to the legislators. Landon told the commissioners, he would like them to present their thoughts about the bill at the June meeting of the Joint Labor, Health and Human Services Interim Committee.

Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, had his own request of the commission.

He said he wanted the commission to make recommendations on what the Legislature can do with some of the ongoing functions of the commission after it ends in 2009.

For example, the commission compiles a statistical handbook of health care providers in the state, and Scott said this data needs to continue to be collected every year.

"It's very useful," Scott said. "It's an ongoing project that we will need to find a home for."

He also said he wanted some recommendations about who the Legislature will turn to if it needs data on the medical field.

Dr. Larry Kirven, a commissioner, said there could be some type of health advisory board, but "a commission would not be popular."

Contact health reporter Allison Rupp at (307) 266-0534 or allison.rupp@trib.com.