Wyoming House votes to delete Penn amendment on gender affirming care at UW family medical residency practice

    The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a budget amendment on third reading Wednesday deleting one of the amendments Wyoming Rep. Sarah Penn, R-Lander, proposed earlier this week addressing state funding for gender affirming care.

    Penn’s amendment had stated that $100,000 in funding for the University of Wyoming family medical residency practice would be withheld if the program offers or performs “any gender transition, gender affirmation or gender reassignment treatments.”

    But Wyoming Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, who presented the Wednesday amendment deleting Penn’s proposal, argued that, “when someone walks in the door” of a family medical practice in Wyoming, physicians “need to treat them” – even if that treatment “may be related to some of the things that (are) not probably what we would consider to be appropriate or moral.”

    “Really, that’s No. 1,” he said.


    His second point was that it’s not “proper” for the Wyoming Legislature to be “pecuniary” by taking funding away from UW “because of a family practice center treating someone that has come and asked for help.”

    “I think it’s the wrong way to do it,” he said. “It’s the wrong message to our constituents (and) to the health care profession.”

    Wyoming Rep. Ember Oakley, R-Riverton, agreed with Nicholas that “we need to be very careful” about setting policy using “punitive measures via budgeting,” especially in situations that involve “independent medical providers.”

    “We need to have freedom for our medical community,” Oakley said. “They have to be able to have the autonomy to have the freedom to look at (the) range of maladies that may affect people. And the idea that we would say, ‘You’re not going to touch this subset of people, or we will take money away from you,’ is just a really bad way of doing business. … We have to leave professionals to do their job.”


    In response, Penn pointed out that UW is a “tax-funded entity,” so she said it’s appropriate for legislators to consider whether “we want our Wyoming doctors trained to perform these things in our state.”

    “(This) sends a message that says Wyoming is not interested in pursuing this,” she said. “You personally may have different perspectives, but as representatives, what do our people want? What do our constituents say on this topic?”

    She also reiterated her statement from earlier in the week about the appropriate “scope of practice” for students in the family medicine residency program.


    “If these types of treatments are going to be performed, they need to be performed by the correct entities,” Penn said. “If we’re teaching our Wyoming students (that) it’s OK to go outside your scope of practice … we’re headed in the wrong direction.”

    Wyoming Rep. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, echoed that point, noting that medical students usually attend “specialized” programs to hone their professional focus in areas like dentistry or podiatry.

    “I don’t think our land grant school at this point needs to be in this particular scope,” Ottman said. “I don’t think we’re quite ready for it. It doesn’t really support the security or the infrastructure of our state. (And) there’s too many things up in the air for us to really support this right now.”


    She was referring to the “news” she has heard “about litigation for these types of procedures” that could be ongoing for “quite a few years.”

    “Maybe we need to monitor it for a little while and see … what direction that this is going to go in,” she said.

    The Wednesday amendment passed 33-29.


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