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June 2009 St@teside

Wyoming's Eye on Possibilities of Health Reform

The Wyoming Healthcare Commission (WHCC) issued its final report in late April, with its primary recommendation being a call for a permanent and independent health policy commission to work on health reform.

The two additional recommendations of the Commission include that the state continue to support the collection of data to enable health workforce monitoring and planning; and that a public/private partnership be created to develop a patient safety organization in Wyoming—to be certified by the Federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005.  The goal of such an organization is to create a forum for health care providers to address issues of patient care and safety without the threat of litigation.[1]

According to Susie Scott, the executive director of the Commission, it is unlikely that the 2010 Wyoming legislature will pursue the creation of the commission, largely due to budget constraints.  However, Scott hopes that the 2011 legislature will be able to more seriously consider the recommendation once federal stimulus monies for health information technology and health care improvement are available.[2]

Aside from the three recommendations made to continue health reform in Wyoming, the WHCC also suggests that an effective commission could be responsible for the following activities:

  • Acting as a liaison between the executive and legislative branches in providing information related to health reforms across the country, and translating these efforts into meaningful policy action for Wyoming,
  • Tracking federal actions in health reform and connecting those actions to Wyoming policy and programs,
  • Acting as a central decision-making point for health reform,
  • Obtaining federal grant monies for health reform projects,
  • Prioritizing solutions for potential provider shortages,
  • Monitoring to assess whether legislated policy initiatives are being delivered in an optimal manner,
  • Providing motivation in the development of programs to enhance a statewide, integrated health care delivery system, and
  • Providing the governor and legislature measures of accountability for state-funded health projects.

The WHCC recommends that commission membership pull from health care, business, and consumer groups—as well as include legislative leadership.[3]