Good News from Wyoming’s Labor Committee

The Labor committee refused to act as a pawn of special interests, and this is great news for the citizens of Wyoming.

A few months ago I wrote a series of articles explaining how Wyoming’s Labor Committee was considering two bills to block the construction of physician-owned hospitals in the state. These bills, brought to the committee by Sen. Charlie Scott, materialized as a result of lobbying by Casper’s Wyoming Medical Center (WMC). Seems the WMC, afraid of the competition, tried to use the power of government to prevent a group of doctors from building a new hospital in Casper.

But both these bills violate Wyoming’s constitution.

During the 2012 election, Wyoming citizens passed overwhelmingly an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution to enshrine their right to make their own health care decisions. That means that people are free to pay, and health care providers are free to receive payment for services without penalties or fines. True, Wyoming’s legislature can place reasonable restrictions on those freedoms, but preventing hospital construction hardly seems reasonable. In addition, Wyoming’s constitution now says the state is supposed to protect Wyoming citizens from undue government infringement, not become the infringer itself.

Wyoming citizens want to make their own health care decisions, and to do that, they must have access to care. Preventing new hospital construction would close off the free market escape valve and force people into politically connected hospitals. Those hospitals, protected from competition, would have no incentive to improve service or lower costs. Meanwhile, discouraged doctors would look for other options; reducing hours or leaving for states that better appreciate their skills. This would mean people in Wyoming would wait longer and longer to see fewer and fewer doctors.

We know this because in the Canadian single payer paradise, few doctors take new patients. In rural areas, fewer than 35 percent of doctors take new patients while in urban areas fewer than 20 percent of doctors take new patients.

During the Labor committee meeting, these bills were laid back and a third, designed to place a moratorium on new hospital construction, died. This means the new hospital in Casper will go ahead. Even better, it was revealed during the meeting that three more new hospitals are in the works; one in Jackson, Rock Springs and Gillette. 

This is great news for the citizens of Wyoming. Why? Because more competition in the health care sector will mean more choice, improved service and lower costs. 

Competition forces incumbents to sharpen their pencils and this can have fantastic, if unintended consequences. An Oklahoma City surgery center started posing surgery prices on line, started a bidding war, and patients started coming from Canada. In fact, Canadians are well known for travel to the United States for timely health care. Why? Because socialist-style health care means virtually unlimited demand and very limited resources, and this results in health care rationing and waiting lists.

Remember, access to a waiting list is not access to health care.

People in Canada suffer and sometimes even die while waiting for medical services. In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the province of Quebec’s health care law prohibiting private medical insurance violated Quebecers’ right to life and security. In the opinion of one of the justices, “the long waits at hospitals can result in deaths and that private health care prohibited by the Quebec Acts would likely have saved those lives.” Competitive, well-managed hospitals in Casper could mean medical tourists to the city and could even help the entire Casper economy as people from Canada and all over the United States travel there for health care services.

Wyomingites should take heart that many legislators are in favor of competition in the health care sector and are able to resist special interest group lobbying. This bodes well for the upcoming legislative session. 

You can read Maureen’s KCWY-TV Channel 13 comment here

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2 Responses to Good News from Wyoming’s Labor Committee

  1. JT says:

    What about the state law that requires that county-owned hospitals “shall furnish free to residents of the county having no means to pay for the same all necessary facilities and maintenance during the time such persons are required to remain there for proper treatment.” Should these new hospitals be required to play by the same set of rules as the county-owned hospitals?

    Wyoming has the most expensive health care in the country – we need to do something – but the truth is that things like emergency rooms lose money. You can be sure the new hospitals being built will not have an ER. But high-quality ERs are a good thing for the community. If we want competition to rule, then every hospital will close their ER and get rid of a bunch of specialties. Is that what you want?

    Also, Free Market principles are hard to enforce in Health Care because anyone with insurance does not have any incentive to shop around for a better price.

    This is just a money-grab for a couple doctors and out-of-state investors and will do nothing to help lower costs or improve care. Did the opening of Mountain View in Casper lower costs? Ask anyone that has been to the ER since Mountain View opened – things are WAY more expensive now – because Mountain View only takes the profitable patients and leave the money losers for WMC.

    We have LOTS of problems in Wyoming health care, but more hospitals are not going to help.

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