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UW Conference Examines the High Costs of Health Care

September 20, 2013
Experts will examine sweeping social, legal and economic consequences of the Affordable Care Act during a Consumer Issues Conference Oct. 2-4 at the University of Wyoming. The conference also examines the state of innovation and legal issues in the new health care market. (UW Photo)

In the longest article ever to appear in Time magazine, Stephen Brill kindled a widespread debate over one of the nation’s critical social issues: the high cost of health care.

Brill will be among the speakers at the Consumer Issues Conference Oct. 2-4 at the University of Wyoming. He will appear by videoconference at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, in the Wyoming Union Family Room.

Brill described consumers as “powerless buyers in a seller’s market where the only consistent fact is the profit of the sellers.” He wrote, “If they’re not protected by Medicare or protected only partially by private insurance with high co-pays, they have little visibility into pricing, let alone control of it. They have little choice of hospitals or the services they are billed for, even if they somehow knew the prices before they got billed for the services.”

That issue should trigger interest in the UW conference, but there are other issues, such as the effects of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), that also have sparked enormous public interest, says Dee Pridgen, UW College of Law professor and one of the conference organizers. She says the UW conference, “Navigating the New Healthcare Market,” will cover innovative directions in the health care industry, legal issues including Medicaid expansion in the states and consumer issues to help people make wise decisions in determining their health care future.

For example, Elaine Ryan, vice president of AARP’s Government Affairs Department, will discuss the organization’s position on Obamacare Thursday, Oct. 3, at 9 a.m. She leads a team that works with AARP state offices to advance AARP’s agenda with governors and state legislators throughout the nation to enable individuals age 50 and older, and their families, to attain and maintain their long-term financial security and health. She will discuss the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) implementation in Wyoming and Colorado.

Other keynote speakers are: Stephen Feldman, distinguished professor in the UW College of Law, who will discuss the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the ACA’s constitutionality, Thursday at 12:15 p.m.; and Bonnie Braun, University of Maryland professor of family sciences, speaking on “Health Care Policy and Health Insurance Literacy,” Thursday at 3 p.m. 

A documentary film, “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare,” will be shown Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m., and there will be numerous other highly qualified speakers during concurrent breakout sessions. An exhibit area will be open throughout the conference, and an “interactive health fair” will be offered Oct. 4.

Continuing Legal Education and Professional Teaching Standards Board credits are available. Registration costs $60 on or before Sept. 23 and $70 after that. Discounts for seniors are available, and students are free.

To register and to see a complete conference schedule, information about speakers, traveling to Laramie and other conference information, visit the website at

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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