The Wyoming Senate on Monday voted down an amendment to build a $23 million, 36- bed skilled nursing facility for veterans in Casper.

That vote came on the first of three scheduled readings of House Bill 82. But it's still possible that vote may not be the final word on the subject.

The scheduled second reading of the bill in the Senate was laid back on Tuesday to allow more time to look into whether the facility would be financially viable in Buffalo, which is the planned home of the facility as things now stand. The main bone of contention is whether placing the facility in the smaller community would generate enough use to pay back a $9 million loan within 15 years.

The facility would be for Wyoming veterans who need more intensive care than is offered by an assisted living facility. It would often serve to offer end-of-life care for those who have served in the military.

Casper was at one point the planned location for the facility, but House Bill 82 was amended in the Wyoming House to place it in Buffalo. Monday's attempt to change the location back to Casper on first reading in the Senate fell short, however. Buffalo has the assisted living Veterans' Home and the nearby community of Sheridan is home to the VA Medical Center for mental health services.

But supporters of locating the facility in Casper point out the larger number of Certified Nursing Assistants and other medical personnel in the Natrona County community.

Some lawmakers wonder if the facility will be financially viable in Buffalo, which has a much smaller population of veterans who might populate the facility than does Casper. The federal Department of Veterans' Affairs is expected to pick up all but $7 million of the cost to build the facility.

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