Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter Photographer 

Bill introduced regarding WPH operational costs


January 31, 2019

After two failed attempts at relieving the State of Wyoming of the burden of the Wyoming Pioneer Home through privatization, the legislature is now making and end run at the facility by proposing to eliminate its annual state subsidy.

A bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning, HB0295, sponsored by Republican Representative Donald Burkhart of Carbon County that would eliminate the state subsidy of $1.4 million per year to the Pioneer Home.

They would continue to provide $800,000 for maintenance of the building, excluding any capital construction costs.

The Wyoming Department of Health estimates that 30-50 percent of the residents are eligible for Medicaid, which would bring in $300,000 - $500,000 per year.

Indigent residents, those who are unable to pay, will still be allowed care at the facility, but their acceptance will fall under the auspices of the Department of Health.

This would mean the costs to the residents would have to increase to make up the deficit $1,075,769 per year for operational costs.

Operational costs include personnel expenses (wages), equipment and maintenance not covered under the $800,000 stipend.

The facility is not currently at maximum occupancy, mainly due to the constant turmoil being created by the state as to whether or not the doors are even going to remain open.

At a meeting of the Appropriations Committee in November, Representative Albert Sommers from Sublette County questioned Health Director Tom Forslund regarding who is staying at the Pioneer Home, wondering what counties are represented among the residents.

At last count, there were 48 people residing at the Pioneer Home with the bulk coming from the Big Horn Basin, 56 percent from Hot Springs County, 12.5 percent from Washakie County and 3 percent from Fremont County.

There are 53 rooms in the facility, which when full, will accomodate 61 elderly residents.

Facility Director Sharon Skiver noted their count is currently 48 residents, reminding the committee the census is quite fluid with some folks moving to rehabilitation or nursing facilities as well as deaths. Skiver added the average stay for residents is four to five years.

The state’s current assistance amounts to just $61.25 per person, per day.

For comparison, the Pioneer Home has space for 61 residents and receives $1.7 million per year. The Veteran’s Home of Wyoming (in Buffalo) currently has 76 residents and receives $3.65 million per year.

No date has been set for discussion of the bill in the Appropriations Committee.


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