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Bill sought to allow RHCD split

Posted: Monday, Nov 26th, 2012

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Newly elected chairman of the Sublette County Rural Health Care District (RHCD) board Scott Scherbel approached the Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday, Nov. 20, to discuss legislation that would allow the RHCD to be split into two separate districts.

Scherbel – who was representing only himself and not the RHCD board, he said – informed the board of commissioners that he asked Wyoming Sen. Stan Cooper to introduce the legislation that would change existing state statute. Under the current statute, Scherbel said, a health district cannot be split without completely disbanding the district.

According to Scherbel, Cooper asked for the county commissioners’ support before he would introduce the legislation.

Under state law, Scherbel said, the only way to split a health care district is to disband and create two new districts, a process he called “arduous.” Other types of districts, such as fire protection districts, do have the ability to be split.

“I’m not proposing that we split the (RHCD) district,” Scherbel said. “My understanding of the (Sublette County) health care district is that there has always been this conflict between the two ends of the county and the clinics and stuff. And one resolution to that would be a split district.”

Commission chairman Joel Bousman was more interested in resolving the RHCD’s conflicts than in supporting legislation.

“I would like to explore the possibilities of ‘why don’t we resolve the conflict so there is no conflict,’” Bousman said.

Scherbel addressed the issue, saying the clinics in Pinedale and Marbleton work separately and that works well for each area.

“The communities are different,” Scherbel said. If the needs of one are met, he explained, the needs of the other might not be met.

Commissioner John Linn called the RHCD conflict “a philosophical difference in how health care is delivered.”

Scherbel said the RHCD board has worked to resolve this conflict, but has made no progress.

“Instead of forcing a unity that might not be there … it seems to me that maybe the simplest solution is a separation to allow those differences to be dealt with by the people who are involved with them,” Scherbel said.

While the commissioners hesitated to support the proposed legislation, they did recognize the advantage it could provide, should the RHCD board decide that a split is necessary.

“I can see where the option to do that would be beneficial,” Commissioner Andy Nelson said.

Linn supported the legislation on the grounds of fairness between different types of districts.

“I’m all for getting the law changed. It’s obvious to me that they’ve gone to the lengths to give fire districts the option to split. They should have the same for health care (districts),” Linn said.

Linn cautioned against giving the wrong type of support to the legislation, though.

“I don’t think the commission endorsing this, or this concept, going to Stan (Cooper), is a full endorsement of splitting the community; it’s giving the community the option to do what they want,” Linn said.

Bousman asked Scherbel for more time before the commissioners make any final decision on supporting the legislation (or not) and petitioning Cooper to introduce it. Scherbel agreed and also assured the commissioners that the county’s health care itself was not at stake.

“It’s not the quality of health care that has been at issue; it’s the administrative issues and things that affect the patient beyond the care itself that is the issue,” Scherbel said.

For the complete article see the 11-27-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-27-2012 paper.

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