Bill Looks Into Medicare Discrimination Statewide

Many in Wyoming rely on Medicare to help pay for health care.

Lawmakers look at a bill, involving discrimination by the federal health insurance program.

Lawmakers say they understand something like this would be a huge undertaking.

Through this bill, they hope to see if they have a case on possible Medicare discrimination in Wyoming.

"This appears to be the largest cause of high health insurance costs in the state of Wyoming."

Medicare primarily serves people 65 and older.

"As we get older, as you will eventually discover things go wrong with us and we need medical care, so those of us on Medicare, and I'm one, are about half the business that a hospital does," said Sen. Charles Scott from Natrona County.

The Medicare discrimination bill would require a study of discrimination against Wyoming residents and health care providers by the federal Medicare program.

"We are suffering from discrimination by Medicare on a much greater extent than we thought."

Scott says information provided by the Wyoming Medical Center, might substantiate the claim.

"They're paying less than two-thirds of what it costs to serve them here in Wyoming, whereas nationally they're paying 87% of what it costs to serve. And we think that's full cost in some areas and much lower in the center of the country."

The study would look into reimbursement rates and health care impacts along with a study of the economic impacts of Medicare reimbursement rates.

"They have to raise what they charge people who are privately insured way up three times what it costs to serve those people in order to keep their doors open."

The possibility of Medicare discrimination affects more than just those aged 65 and older.

"The people that are affected are the younger people that are buying health insurance that are getting health insurance provided by their employer. That's where the costs are recovered just to keep the hospitals doors open."

The report would not provide a definitive answer.

"I believe the senator (Charles Scott) is on to something here that's worth looking at," said Rep. Jerry Obermueller from Natrona County.

But rather seeks a recommendation on whether the state should spend the resources necessary to determine if a lawsuit should be pursued.

The bill passed in the House Appropriations Committee Friday morning.

The senate bill will go on to its second reading in the house next week (March 5-9).