Gordon’s Health Task Force Looking to Address EMS Service
Governor Mark Gordon’s Health Task Force and the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) are stepping up efforts to improve Emergency Medical Services in Wyoming.
The impetus for this comes after the legislature approved funding proposals that aim to help stabilize the EMS system and for pilot projects that try to localize health services.
Gordon requested the legislature appropriate $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to help with the system, based on recommendations from the Health Task Force’s EMS Subcommittee.
The legislature ended up approving $5 million in stabilization funding and $10 million to develop regional pilot programs.
Following the passage of the bill, Gordon used a line-item veto to strike language for the $5 million that would have restricted grant requirements to "not provide any grant under this footnote if the grant will prolong a business entity that otherwise does not have the resources needed to continue to operate during the period of the grant."
In a letter explaining his vetos in the bill, Gordon said that he did so because "The language I have stricken will help them maintain services until long-term solutions are in place."
The $10 million the legislature provided for EMS Regionalization Pilot programs includes a stipulation that any funds provided by the WDH be matched dollar for dollar.
In recent years, EMS providers have had issues offering service due to a combination of factors, including low call volume, high cost of operations, staffing and volunteer shortages, and reimbursement for services.
According to a piece by CNN, many ambulance services in Wyoming operate off of volunteers, which can be hard to sustain with the low demand that exists in parts of Wyoming, with several ambulance services operating at a loss.
"One of the key components necessary for Wyoming to have a robust healthcare system is to ensure our first responder system is viable and sustainable," Gordon said. "It is essential that emergency services be ready to respond when and where the need arises, whether that be in our most rural areas or in our larger communities."
According to a press release by the governor's office, the Task Force and the WDH will host several regional discussions with undefined stakeholders to address challenges related to EMS in the coming months.
The first regional discussion will take place in Cheyenne and address Trauma Region 3, which includes Albany, Laramie, Goshen, and Platte Counties, with additional meetings to follow in each of the state’s five trauma regions, with exact dates and locations to be determined.