Cheyenne Regional Medical Center is facing the loss of as much as $7 million annually due to Medicare cuts. CRMC CEO Dr. John Lucas says other funding cuts could double that amount.

Lucas says the Legislature's decision not to participate in the voluntary expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is one factor in the possible funding cuts. Lucas also says the funding situation is extremely unsettled right now, with such factors as whether congress approves President Obama's budget proposals figuring into the hospital's long-term budget outlook.

Lucas also says the health care exchanges which are scheduled to begin in 2014 as part of the ACA could help hospital funding by reducing the roughly $1 million a week CRMC spends on caring for uninsured patients. Lucas adds that how that will actually play out remains to be seen, since it appears many people don't understand the exchanges or how they will work..

Lucas says the hospital hopes to make up some of the funding shortfall through boosting productivity, including such things as the hospital's new computer system, which will eliminate much of the paperwork and duplication that has been part of CRMC operations in the past. Lucas also says the hospital will be looking into saving money with regional partnerships with other medical facilities.

Lucas adds the hospital will also try to save money through more efficient use of pharmaceutical drugs, including administering the drugs orally rather than through an IV in some cases. Lucas says cuts in existing programs or hospital personnel  are not being considered right now, although he says CRMC may have to take a hard look at any proposals for new programs.