Hospital Officials Detail Medicare, Medicaid Causes For Layoffs
Wyoming Medical Center President Vickie Diamond, Chief Financial Officer Yvonne Wigington and WMC Board Chairman John Masterson cited several economic causes for the layoffs of 58 hospital employees during a news conference Tuesday.
- The Legislature's refusal to expand the federal-state Medicaid program for about 20,000 Wyoming citizens has aggravated some patients' inability to pay. That results in the hospital having to socialize its losses by spreading the costs of care to patients who can pay. The WMC itself probably could have added $2 million to its bottom line if state lawmakers had expanded Medicaid.
- From 1992 through 2009, Medicare deemed the WMC a "sole community provider," which meant it qualified for about an $8 million annual subsidy. But it lost that status in late 2011 retroactive to the beginning of 2010 because the Mountain View Regional Hospital, founded by former neurosurgeons who worked at the Wyoming Medical Center, gained enough market share to disqualify the WMC. The hospital also had to repay Medicare $15.7 million.
- The downturn in the energy industry has left people without health insurance, which has driven up uncompensated care.
- Local physician-owned hospitals and clinics have the right to deny service to Medicare and Medicaid patients, meaning those patients will seek care at the Wyoming Medical Center.
- The federal government has been reducing the amount of Medicare reimbursements, so hospitals are not being reimburse fully for their costs. (Medicare is the federal health insurance program for the elderly.)
- Wyoming and Casper's population is aging, which means more people are relying on Medicare to pay their health care bills.
"So effectively, we're seeing more patients and being paid less," Wigington said.
"We do have an aging population in Wyoming that contributes to increased Medicare population, and certainly other hospitals do not take as much Medicare as we do that would result in an increase for Wyoming Medical Center," she said.