Wyoming Liberty Group

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Testimony: Pay Patients to Find Affordable Healthcare

I’m Charlie Katebi with the Wyoming Liberty Group.  I’d like to thank the Department of Health for researching and bringing greater attention to Wyoming’s lack of healthcare transparency, and why we need greater clarity for patients.

Patients need simple and transparent prices to find cost-effective healthcare. But even when patients have transparent prices, they often ignore them.  One survey found that 98% of health plans already offer cost calculators in some form. But only 2 percent of patients actually use them.  After all, patients only pay a small fraction of their healthcare costs. As soon as they pay their deductible, it makes no difference whether their MRI costs $500 or $5,000.

However, states are starting to combine price transparency with innovative patient incentives. Several states’ health plans work with a company called Vitals SmartShopper that helps patients compare medical prices online for a variety of medical treatments.

But unlike other price transparency schemes, 90% of Smart Shopper’s patients actively shop for affordable options.  This is because Smartshopper pays patients a portion of the savings they generate when they choose a lower cost provider.

New Hampshire recently partnered with SmartShopper to introduce these incentives in their public employee health plan. Within two years, the program generated $24 million in savings for the state and $2 million in rewards for patients. Some of the highest savings came from Colonoscopies, Knee Surgeries, and MRI’s. 

Procedure Total Savings
Colonoscopy  $1,814,192.39
Remicade Therapy  $1,719,679.00
MRI  $1,608,027.92
Physical Therapy  $1,456,055.10
Lab/Blood Wood  $1,149,682.83
CT Scan  $598,403.45
Upper GI  $383,918.82
Mammogram  $250,108.73
Knee Surgery  $245,319.80
Bariatric Surgery  $178,297.50

Source: SmartShopper 

Smartshopper now works with health plans in Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana.  These programs are transforming these states’ healthcare systems by rewarding value, instead of volume. Instead of patients, providers, and insurers constantly fighting each other’s conflicting interests, everyone has an interest in better healthcare at a lower price. Cost effective providers get more business, insurers pay cheaper claims, and patients get checks in the mail.

Many private sector employers are also partnering with SmartShopper to help employees find quality healthcare at an affordable price.  In 2015, HealthTrust enrolled employees in the SmartShopper program.  After just one year, SmartShopper saved Health Trust $1.5 million in medical costs, exceeding their goal by 50%. 

So price transparency can work, but patients need a reason to favor lower cost providers. Wyoming should consider SmartShopper's incentives as we wrestle with rising healthcare costs.

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Justice Reform Can Help Save Wyoming Some Serious Cash

Anthony joined KGAB host, Gary Freeman, and a number of callers to hash out the importance of sentencing guidelines and post-conviction reform, ways to deal with wrongful convictions, and how being smart on crime can save the state precious resources.

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Together, Wyoming Can Carry the Torch

Anthony speaks with Glenn Woods on Bold Republic and dives a little deeper into the ins and outs of criminal justice reform. The episode is about learning from other States’ mistakes and successes to implement innovative policies toward criminal justice reform. The two talk about the non-partisan nature of CJR and discuss more specific ways to create a stronger, more efficient Wyoming.

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Criminal Justice Reform 101: Where to Begin

Anthony speaks with Glenn Woods on Bold Republic about problems seen across the nation and in other states’ criminal justice systems and how they are being handled. This interview paints very broad brush strokes of justice reform policy and potential to make Wyoming more efficient.

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Who Wants to Pay Higher Taxes?

When recently asked over 65% of Wyoming citizens said they would be more likely to support a candidate for public office who had signed the Taxpayer  Protection Pledge.  Why?  Because a majority of citizens do not want to pay higher taxes, which is why it's so important to know if your local legislator has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  Listen in as Amy Edmonds talks with John Birbari about the pledge. 

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Not proficient in reading and math? No job for you!

We read frequently about employers who desperately want to hire and put people to work. And we often read about how young people are desperate to find jobs “with a living wage.” So why aren’t they teaming up and living happily ever after? Where’s the disconnect?

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Cheyenne City Council Makes Wise Decision on Real Estate Sale

The Cheyenne City Council wisely chose to reject a deal that would have denied them the opportunity to look at multiple offers for the old police station property at 2020 Capitol Avenue.  Had they instead chosen to move forward with the administrations proposed no-bid deal, it would have done a disservice to residents, taxpayers, and even the potential purchaser of the building. It would have deprived residents of the transparency they deserve but have often been denied when the city disposes of city-owned prime commercial real estate. It also would have contradicted city council candidates’ promises to work hard to make downtown Cheyenne the best it can be. Finally, city council members would not have been good stewards of publicly-owned property if they had refused to ensure that the city is getting the best deal it possibly can to maximize revenue, both on the sale of the property and in the future by expanding the city’s property tax base.

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