CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee heard an plea from a former whistleblower on Friday, Feb. 21.
Mark Gaskill, a former Medicaid watchdog, told the five senators about his former career working for the state, where he worked running a team that investigated reports of fraud and abuse of Medicaid funds.
The team found widespread fraud in northwest Wyoming particularly, with the state losing more than $13 million due to this. One of the people involved, psychologist Gibson Condie, pleaded guilty to a federal health care fraud charge. While Gaskill’s intent was to help the state, he was fired after allegedly being told to stop his investigation.
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“My wife and I are selling our horses and chickens, packing up our house and fleeing the state,” he told the committee during his testimony. “She was a pharmacist working for the state and she was also fired due to my reporting of this fraud.”
SF 70, the bill the committee was considering, would establish a reporting system for anyone looking to report governmental abuse, fraud or waste. The Wyoming Department of Audit director would have to establish a toll-free number and an online form for Wyoming residents to report anything unlawful. The reporting party would be kept anonymous from the person they are discussing, and there would be an option to report anonymously.
Gaskill begged the committee to send the bill back to the Senate’s Committee of the Whole for a general file discussion. He told the senators that he wished a bill like this, which would establish a hotline and website where people can submit reports of government waste, fraud or abuse, had been in place during his watchdog tenure.
“Please protect taxpayers dollars, please protect public servants, please protect Wyoming,” he said.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Tom James, who testified to the committee on Friday morning, as well.
He felt the ability to have anonymity when reporting fraud cases was of utmost importance, with Gaskill reiterating this point during his testimony. Knowing a person can be anonymous would likely increase reports, as fear of retribution (not unlike what Gaskill experienced) has stymied this action in the past.
While the case amount is low, the division spends more than 700 hours looking into them annually. With the creation of this new reporting system, their workload could increase significantly.
The committee ultimately voted to send the bill back to the Senate, which will discuss it during the Committee of the Whole next week.
An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote to a person opposing the bill. That quote and section of the story has been removed. Oil City News regrets the error.