Veterans’ skilled nursing facility bill headed for the governor’s desk

Governor Mark Gordon talks during an inaugural ceremony on Jan. 7, 2019, at the Cheyenne Civic Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The veterans’ skilled nursing facility bill is headed for the governor’s desk as of Monday, Feb. 25. A Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives joint committee approved the bill with Buffalo as the destination for the facility.

A House concurrence vote failed on Feb. 15. The House needed to hold a concurrence vote because the version of the bill the Senate passed on Feb. 14 included amendments to the version the House passed in January.

While the House concurrence vote failed, the joint committee’s concurrence vote sends the bill to the governor’s desk. Should Governor Mark Gordon sign the bill, Wyoming would still need to submit a grant request by April 15 to access Veterans’ Affairs construction funding.

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The bill authorizes a loan of up to $9 million for the construction of the skilled nursing facility. Those funds would come from the legislative stabilization reserve account. The bill stipulates that the loan is not to exceed 35 percent of the total planning and construction costs.

The Veterans Affairs funding, should the VA approve Wyoming’s grant submission, would come from the VA State Home Skilled Nursing Facility program. That grant could cover up to 65 percent of the initial construction costs for the facility, according to a Wyoming Department of Health needs analysis for the Wyoming skilled nursing facility.

Were the facility to be completed with VA approval, the VA would also provide a per diem for eligible veterans at the facility. The needs analysis said that per diem was $107.16 at the time of the study.

The bill states that the loan for the facility needs to be paid back within 15 years of the facility’s construction.

Should the governor sign the bill and should Wyoming successfully secure VA funding, the facility would be constructed in Buffalo. Whether to locate the facility in Buffalo, Casper or Sheridan has been at issue as this bill moved through the legislature.

Oil City has been covering the bill as it moved through the Legislature. This Feb. 13 article shows the concept site designs for the possible Buffalo, Casper and Sheridan locations.

This Feb. 12 article considered the distinction between assisted living facilities and the more intensive skilled nursing facilities.

This Feb. 8 article took a look at the feasibility studies that were conducted in recommending a location for the skilled nursing facility.