Wyoming is the only state without laws that guide how health insurance companies can approve and deny medical care.
Lawmakers on the joint health committee agreed to try to change that Friday.
Members of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee met in Casper for the second day of interim hearings to discuss prior authorization, the process by which health insurance companies approve treatments for patients.
Testimony from doctors, hospitals and medical groups swayed the lawmakers, who were at times animated and argued that the issue needs solving. In a rare sign of unity, the committee agreed to form a working group and unanimously voted to draft a bill that will aim to curb the power of health insurance companies in Wyoming.
“We don’t need this extra burden and we’ve got to serve people better,” said Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton.
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Dr. Kevin Helling, a Casper-based general surgeon, and medical groups shared statistics and gave vivid testimony that portrayed prior authorization as a system run amok.
Prior authorization increasingly consumes the time and resources of doctors and medical facilities, who are asked to justify their decisions to health insurance companies. Hospitals and clinics have had to add employees to handle waves of approvals and appeals, which are different across companies, those who spoke said.
Nathan Stutte, the chief financial officer of Sheridan Memorial Hospital, told lawmakers that the hospital employs five people whose sole job is to work on prior authorizations. In the hospital’s clinics, another one or two people are usually dedicated to health insurance approvals, he said.
“We’re redirecting vital health care