For followers of health policy discussion in Wyoming, none of this is new. State legislators and policy analysts within the Health Department have talked for a couple of years about access to physicians, whether every county needs every service, why health costs are so high and what solutions might be. Some ideas floated — emphasis on “floated” — include the state subsidizing primary and emergent care services at the county level while staying hands-off on shoppable services, like joint replacements. Another, of course, is Medicaid expansion, a relatively cheap way to bring care to 19,000 Wyomingites while potentially lowering costs. That has been unable to establish even a beachhead within the Legislature.
Pearlman said everything was on the table, even an examination of what a single-payer system would look like in Wyoming, as well as a discussion about Wyoming’s payer mix — who pays for what services: private insurance or a federal program like Medicaid and Medicare. Wyoming’s private market is dominated almost entirely by Blue Cross Blue Shield, while Cigna provides insurance for state employees. Naturally there will be discussions on telemedicine — which has been supercharged during the pandemic — as well as what social problems drive adverse health effects. Access to care is a primary concern of the primary care association, said Jan Cartwright, its executive director.
The group has been meeting since July, and the early conversations have been largely educational, said Jen Davis, a policy adviser to Gordon, so that all members of the task force are on the same level of knowledge. The primary goal, once all that’s sorted, is to address cost, with access behind it.