Dean Bartholomew, M.D., the physician-owner of the Platte Valley Medical Clinic (PVMC), was elected President of the Wyoming Medical Society (WMS) last week. Bartholomew said "It is exciting, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to represent the society and the physicians throughout the state." He feels that his presidency will help represent the rural voice and be of benefit to smaller clinics, especially in this time when there are policy changes involving Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.
In Bartholomew's view, it's a difficult time for medical practice's in Wyoming right now, especially in regard to electronic filing and sharing of medical records. It's hard for smaller clinics that don't have large staffs with administrative officers that are tasked solely with compliance responsibilities. This is an area where Bartholomew feels particularly adept at representing the view of the small clinic to the WMS.
Bartholomew's duties will call for added time away from the clinic, but he is comfortable with that because his nurse practitioner Jennifer Oiler and physician's assistant Edwin Sheils will be there to see patients.
Bartholomew's duties as president include being a spokesperson for the WMS, heading quarterly board meetings, and managing day-to-day affairs of the Society along with the Executive Director.
Because of his exposure as president of the WMS, Bartholomew thinks "It's a great chance for Saratoga and the Corbett Medical Foundation. People know what's happening here at the state level." He would also like to have a WMS Board of Trustees meeting in Saratoga as a way to introduce members to the Valley and the PVMC.
The WMS represents over 500 physicians state-wide with approximately 25 members on the board of trustees. The primary goals of the Society are physician and patient representation at the state level and physician recruitment; especially in rural areas.
Bartholomew feels that physician recruitment is a particularly sensitive issue in state because of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the fact that Wyoming has not approved an expansion of Medicaid. The WMS is in favor of expanding Medicaid in order to allow more patients access to insurance.
When asked if the Affordable Care Act is a good thing for small practices in Wyoming, Bartholomew said that obviously there is a political side, but from a patient standpoint, it is overall a good thing because patients who didn't use to have access to healthcare now do.
From a clinic standpoint the Affordable Healthcare Act probably helps because there are more patients with insurance and they can pay their medical bills, although there has been an overall increase in deductibles. Bartholomew said, "health insurance is getting to be a little more like car insurance...it kicks in when you have a major incident."
In regard to Medicaid expansion, patients from zero to 138 percent above the poverty level could be covered, but Wyoming has opted not to participate and that group now does not have access to insurance.